Two races on from Valentino Rossi’s comeback from a double leg fracture, Jack Miller produced a remarkable recovery of his own, as the 22-year old posted his finest showing in a dry MotoGP race in front of a home crowd at Phillip Island.

Miller sensationally led the first four laps of the epic Phillip Island encounter, and was one of the eight riders that swapped positions in a thrilling battle that he likened to a Moto3 race, before falling down the order to seventh place in the race’s final third.

The 22-year old admitted he had used up too much of his rear tyre in the early laps as he pulled clear of the chasing pack, leaving him searching for rear grip late on as he slipped and slid his way around the 2.7-mile track.

That Miller’s best showing of the season, which included his joint highest qualifying performance on Saturday, came 24 days after fracturing his right tibia made his seventh place all the more impressive.

“Considering I broke my leg three weeks ago to lead my home grand prix for the first couple of laps and to be mixing it with the boys until the end was good,” said Miller. “I got a little carried away at the start, maybe spent a little bit too much tyre in the first three laps but it was all in good fun.

“I was just missing a little bit of grip in those last few laps. Eight laps to go I started yo-yoing to the group in front. I was losing a lot in the last two lefts. It was a shame I couldn’t fight right at the end for a podium. But to finish that close, I’m pretty happy.

“The bike I had today was pretty good. I can’t fault it. It was pretty slow on the front straight. You saw the two Yamahas come around the outside of me. I was on the inside. They nearly pulled the stickers off the bike.

“But no, it handled really well and to be honest it was down to me today. I should have saved the tyre a little bit more. I would have had a little bit more in the end. But I’m really happy with the day, the weekend and I’m looking forward going forward.”

Did his strategy focus on leading from the first lap? Miller’s reply was swift: “No. I had a good start, went into the lead and was like, ‘Oh, I better push!’ And I pushed and pulled out a little gap on the first lap. It was alright.

“I throttled off like the third lap in. I really wanted people to come past me because I knew the tyre was going to be on the limit. I wanted someone else to set the pace so I could roll around and have a marker. I’m happy.”

Come the chequered flag, Miller was just over five seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez, comfortably the closest he has been to the front in a dry MotoGP encounter since his promotion at the start of 2015.

The 22-year old had been closer – just 1s off with seven laps to play – but found his rear Michelin tyre to be spinning excessively, leaving him unable to snatch a place inside the top six.

“I was in there until the last lap,” said Miller. “I was on Crutch’s [Cal Crutchlow’s] arse. I swapped my map back. I was on the same map all the way through, which was a conservative tyre map. I stayed on that pretty much the whole way through the race.

“Then with about three laps to go, I tried to have another little dig to try and close the gap to catch Crutch. But it just started spinning too much and it was that that cost me, and the tyre went all the way down to the base rubber – or ran out of grip, let’s say, in the drive area.

“On the last lap I threw it into turn two. I really lost all my time. I was maybe about half a second behind Crutch. I flicked it over quite aggressively into turn two and she nearly came around on me. At the same time Iannone had the exact same problem as me. He was on the edge of the tyre. He threw it in and nearly went, simply through being on the edge on the left hand side.

“It just felt like Moto3 all over again. Turn four every lap, you didn’t know where they were going to come from: outside; inside; mid-corner. It was just people going everywhere. It was good fun but I really enjoyed that race.”

On how his right leg, that he broke just over three weeks before the race, held up throughout the 40-minute dash, Miller said it hadn’t caused any issues across the 27 laps.

“Not until I took it off the footpeg at the end [did it hurt]. I had to put my foot down to do a burnout in front of my own stand. I was like, ‘Oh! That’s a bit stiff!’ But no, it was alright.

“I don’t know. I felt good this weekend, just from start to finish. It was a solid weekend for me. I kept the pressure on in every session, whether it be wet or dry. I felt really comfortable. Maybe I need to go and break my leg more often, I don’t know.”



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