Jack Miller started and finished as the top Ducati rider in Sunday's Catalunya MotoGP, albeit with a podium place just out of reach.

The Pramac rider broke into the all-Yamaha front row at the start of the race, climbing from fourth to second behind pole man Franco Morbidelli.

But the Australian was soon re-passed by Valentino Rossi, then ran wide under braking for the Turn 10 hairpin, gifting third to eventual race winner Fabio Quartararo.

"I honestly hadn’t really followed anyone in there all weekend," Miller said afterwards. "Rossi braked pretty early, as you would on the first lap, understandable.

"Then when I grabbed the brakes I had a big lift on the rear. When that happens you've got to release and grab again.

"I was coming in hot so I sort of panicked a little bit, just first-lap jitters I guess. Just ran a little deep and allowed Fabio through at that point. It was just one of those things."

Although Rossi would crash out on lap 16 of 24, Miller remained in fourth place having been overtaken by Joan Mir at almost the same time.

Battling for grip in the closing stages, the Australian soon lost out to the other Suzuki of Alex Rins, who went on to take third place from Morbidelli.

All of which meant Miller crossed the finish line in fifth, 1.5s from the podium and just ahead of team-mate Francesco Bagnaia.

"Yeah, close but no cigar," Miller said. "I felt the right-hand side of the front tyre already little losing its edge halfway through when I dropped off the group there with the Yamis at the front.

"Not long after that I saw Frankie start to struggle with his front. I thought, 'all right, we’ve got him here'. I still had a little bit of rear tyre left, I felt. So I started trying to make some headway towards Frankie.

"I was getting there, and then the rear tyre [grip] felt like it went off a cliff. It just died on its arse sort of thing. Then I was just a sitting duck, pretty much.

"I was having drama with it, so I changed the engine brake map in-between Turns 9 and 10, because I was losing it on the rear.

"When I did that, we've got like a shift light there in fourth before the braking zone and for some stupid reason I went up to fifth, just because my mind wasn’t on the riding side of things, I was just looking at getting the maps switched.

"When I did that I ran a little wide and let Mir through. But anyway he was coming through. He and Rins both seemed to have more tyre than all of us at the end there.

"Even on the in-lap just looking at the Suzuki rear tyre, they seemed to have no lines in it whatsoever. Pecco’s was a little bit better than mine but not much. Even Fabio and Frankie both had bigger lines in them and the Suzukis kind of looked really clean, so it seemed like they were able to save the rear tyre more than us.

"But we finished. Quite easily couldn’t have finished today, with the way the conditions were. Every time you'd go into Turn 2, you’d lose the front.

"The track was so cold. We had no other option than to run the soft tyres, which around here we all know is not fantastic to do. But we just couldn’t get the temperature in the tyres.

"It was a salvage day for the championship. We picked up some points. We’ll roll on to the next one."

Eleven points in Barcelona means Miller is now sixth in the world championship and, while 33 behind new leader Quartararo, is only 9 from the top Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso (fourth).

The Italian suffered his first non-score of the season when he was tangled up in Johann Zarco's lap one fall. Miller has had two DNFs so far, a crash at Jerez and then engine problem (due to a tear-off blocking the air intake) at Misano.

 

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