Jack Miller believes he paid the price for a combative start to the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, where he took the fight to eventual winner Marc Marquez in a thrilling early duel and “used too much of the edge of my tyre.”

Having led laps five and six of the race, the Australian was powerless to keep Marquez in his grasp and soon let Andrea Dovizioso by before Danilo Petrucci overtook him for third.

Despite a late rally, Miller would finish up fourth, and missed out on a second podium finish of the year by just under a second. “It was a good race,” he said, noting how he had made no other mistakes other than being a touch too aggressive early on.

“It was good,” he said. “I enjoyed it quite a bit. The bike was working pretty well. Maybe got a little carried away at the start, used a little bit too much of the edge of my tyre.

“I tried to get in front of Marc because I felt I had the speed, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep the speed for the whole race. So I tried to get in front of Marc and slow the pace down a little bit.

“But he was able to get back past in about two laps, and once he got back past, he was just able to chip away, like a tenth a lap, bang – bang – bang – bang until it got to about a second. His speed was pretty strong.

“It was nice to get the pass on him and to show that we can fight, but I just need to understand a little bit more how to do the lap time without using the edge of the tyre like I did.

“Then I allowed Dovi to come through because I thought maybe he would have good pace, but to be honest, he didn't have the greatest pace and he was allowing Danilo to catch us.

“But it was quite good in another way, because I understood a few things of what he is doing differently by following him. So in one way it was a negative, in another way it was a positive.

“It was a good race. I stayed so close to this guys. There's a couple of things I would change, but all in all, it was a good day considering we had a couple of crashes this weekend, so it was nice to just not make any mistakes in the race, bring the bike home, I didn't run wide once, and I was quite calm.”

Is maintaining tyre life an area to work on in future races? “Sometimes we're really good, sometimes we struggle. It's more when I get excited around the other guys, I want to say.

“For example today, when that gap opened up to Marc and I got past Danilo, it was all out to catch Marc. And probably not the right thing to do that early in the race, and we'll take that and we'll work on that for next week.”

Miller could only look on as the factory Ducatis contested second place in the final four lap. His weak point, he said, was in the final sector. It would then take him sectors one, two and three to close within striking distance, only to lose it all again.

“I was watching Dovi and Danilo getting very close together, and a part of me was worried, but a part of me was also happy,” he said. “Of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn't. I had good pace like in the third sector, I was able to catch them back, but every time in the last sector they would just gap me.

“And I would have to work basically the whole lap to catch it back, and then lose it all again there. So I didn't really have anything for them. So I was just hoping on outside help.

“I mean, I'm not going to take them out. Even when Danilo passed me, he sort of half passes, but I saw the TV as I went over turn three and turn four, and I saw he was right behind me.

“Then when I went into turn five, I heard big old engine brake coming up the inside, and I knew he was going to pass me. He still went a little wide, and I almost tried what I tried last weekend, but my common sense shone through, so I thought, it didn't really work out for me last weekend, so I won't try it again.”

 

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