A loss of feeling in his hand stalled Jack Miller's podium attack in the Jerez season-opener, but a loss of front grip would have even greater consequences in Sunday's Andalucia race.

The Pramac Ducati rider climbed swiftly from seventh to fourth on lap 1, then set about chasing down the factory Yamahas of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi.

But Miller struggled to pass Vinales and, when an out-braking attempt saw the Australian run wide at Turn 6, was passed by his own team-mate and front row starter Francesco Bagnaia.

Bagnaia then overtook Vinales at the same corner a lap later, with Miller finally making his own pass on the M1 stick into Turn 1. That put the Pramacs third and fourth, but Miller promptly crashed out with 15 laps to go.

"The Yamaha was going well on the exit of corners so I couldn't pass them as easy as last week," Miller explained.

"I'd tried to avoid the slipstream to try and make sure the front tyre wouldn't get too hot.

"But I had to make a few lunges on the brakes and when you're doing that the front tyre gains temperature. I just lost grip, and in the end I lost everything.

"I tried to be calm through Turn 9 but as soon as I released the brakes, I lost the front. It was a 'nothing' crash but quite costly.

"I didn't do the whole race, but [the hand] felt good and better than last week so I can't complain too much about that.

"The biggest issue was that the grip level was quite low, so I struggled to be as calm and conservative as possible while also going fast."

The DNF means Miller has dropped from fourth to seventh in the early championship standings.

"I'll go back to taking it race by race," he said. "There were a lot of people making mistakes today but Fabio got another 25 points. I'm 13 points off third in the championship. So a good result in Brno will take that down.

"As I've said all along, this isn't a great track for me or Ducati. We'll start again and move on to better pastures."

Bagnaia also failed to reach the finish, losing second place when he was black-flagged for a smoking engine.

That meant, despite one of the Pramac riders being the leading Ducati in all but one of their track sessions heading into the race, the top GP20 at the finish was Official Team rider Andrea Dovizioso in sixth place.

 

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