Jack Miller came out the wrong side of a 'good clean battle' with former team-mate Tito Rabat over eighth place on the final lap of Sunday's Austin MotoGP.

The Australian held the advantage heading into the closing stages, but lost the front of his Pramac Ducati while trying to escape his fellow GP17 rider, who was able to retaliate a few turns from the finish.

Earlier, both had made their way past struggling factory Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo.

However Miller's pass was a little too close for comfort after the Argentina pole sitter was forced to make an unplanned, last-minute dive for the apex.

"I went to say sorry after the race," Miller said. "I bottomed out at turn one and he [Lorenzo] was running a strange line - quite wide in there.

"I'd bottomed out right at the base of the hill and then it sort of carried on up the hill, bouncing off the bump stops, and right as I got to the top the front started locking.

"I could have stopped for the corner but I was either going to have to try and go around the outside of him - but he was already so wide - or try to go up the inside. Those were the options.

"So I just went up the inside. I don’t think there was any contact. I knew it was close. It was last-minute and I didn’t plan it. I was just dealing with the situation as best I could.

"I went to say to say sorry after the race. He didn’t want to acknowledge it, but anyway it is what it is. I saw he was having some tyre problems. I guess after the race is not the ideal time to talk to another rider if they've had a bad one…"

Lorenzo, a bitterly disappointed eleventh at the finish, referenced talk of harsher penalties for aggressive riding when he said of the incident:

“Things didn't change so much, no?

“If I don't pick up the bike, I crash. So if the rider doesn't impact you or you don't crash, they [Race Direction] don't do anything.

"Always the same riders, these actions.

"But [my] race has been so bad that it's not worth speaking about these things.”

Turning to his last lap showdown with Rabat, Miller explained.

"As soon as I got to the front of the group I went [quicker] into the middle 2m 06s, but the next lap I had a little mistake when I lost the front in the right hander through the stadium section. Had to save it on the elbow and it allowed Tito to catch back on me.

"Then on the last lap he passed me in the braking zone after the back straight. I ran wide, so I knew he was right there and I really protected the line, braked quite early and went to the kerb.

"At the last minute I saw a front wheel there so I had to pick the bike up, but it was quite fun to have a little dice like that on the last lap.

"It's never nice to come out second in the battle. But it was a good clean battle, we didn’t touch and a good race for us - coming from where we qualified [18th] to where we finished and to fight with those guys I can be really happy."

Miller is eighth in the world championship, one place and four points in front of Rabat.

Lorenzo's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was the top Ducati rider at COTA, in sixth.

 

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