Miller: ‘We need a solution’, damp patches ‘scary, holding my breath’

‘Turn 8 is scary’ - three-time MotoGP race winner Jack Miller says damp patches around the Jerez circuit are proving challenging to contend with; ‘you're going in there holding your breath because you're already on the limit of the tyre’.
Jack Miller, Ducati MotoGP Jerez
Jack Miller, Ducati MotoGP Jerez

Miller, who managed to qualify fourth for tomorrow’s Jerez MotoGP, will start directly behind his team-mate Francesco Bagnaia, after the Italian set a new all-time lap record. 

Given Bagnaia’s storming time of 1:36.170s you’d be well in your right to assume track conditions were at their optimal. 

But that was far from the case as lingering damp patches have made sections of the 2.7 mile circuit very tricky over the course of the weekend. 

In particular turn eight, as Miller referred to it as ‘scary’ due to its off camber nature: "I mean, even today they’re still there at Turn 8. 8 is scary every time going in there because it's kind of off camber and it's like hiding a little bit behind and especially when you're on a qualy lap, you're going in there holding your breath because you're already on the limit of the tyre. 

"You touch a tiny little damp patch and this is enough to set the bike off. We spoke about it last night in the Safety Commission. 

"I think they know what they're doing and hopefully we can get a solution, because they did a lot of work on the track to try and dry them up this morning. Because the issue is also coming from the humidity in the night."

Bagnaia and Quartararo the favourites for Jerez MotoGP, says Miller 

If their staggering qualifying pace wasn’t enough to indicate who the pre-race favourites are, then FP3 and FP4 would have surely provided the answer.

Francesco Bagnaia, Fabio Quartararo, Spanish MotoGP, 30 April
Francesco Bagnaia, Fabio Quartararo, Spanish MotoGP, 30 April

Bagnaia and Quartararo were consistently ahead of the rest when it came to both one lap and race pace, which is why the Australian is feeling the need to find ‘3-4 tenths’.

"It was an impressive lap from Pecco today. My lap was going really well but I lifted the rear a lot going into six, and although I was still able to improve the lap, I lost quite a considerable amount of time there," said Miller after Q2.  

"In FP4 I did a 16-17 lap run and it was really consistent but probably missing 3-4 tenths per lap. But we made a step in the qualy, then changed a little bit the front end of the bike and I was able to get a little bit more confidence out of it. 

"So now we'll have to check it in warm-up, especially with the used tyres. But apart from that, it's difficult to understand… OK, I know Fabio and Pecco have a really strong pace.

"Both have an incredible pace. But as I was saying, it's difficult to understand exactly where everyone's at, because nobody’s really done a lot of laps consistently.” 

"For sure, Fabio's done a lot more in FP3. They did quite a few laps both on the used tyre, but conditions were a lot better in FP3. FP4 was also a lot hotter. Apart from Pecco, everybody else seems to struggle a little bit to do similar lap times like this morning."

While Bagnaia and Quartararo were fast in FP3 and FP4, the second of those two sessions is perhaps the more relevant to follow as it reflects more the start time of Sunday’s Grand Prix. 

Bastianini has work to do after Q2 crash

While it was great qualifying for the factory Ducati team, former championship leader Enea Bastianini had a much tougher time of things. 

Enea Bastianini, Spanish MotoGP, 30 April
Enea Bastianini, Spanish MotoGP, 30 April

The Italian looked to have good pace with the soft tyre, but a crash in qualifying is likely to compromise his race. 

"Not my day," added the two-time race winner in 2022. "This morning we managed to get a direct seed to Q2, but the feeling with the bike is not the best. 

"With the softer tyre it is not too bad, but we're struggling with the medium one so the warm up will be key in that sense. 

"Obviously the afternoon crash didn’t help as I could have at least started from a better position on the grid: I’m not sure what happened as the front tucked at turn eight. 

"I do have a lack of feeling with the front-end of the bike, but the good news is that I did not hurt myself in the process."

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