But the factory Ducati star soon reached his limit and was unable to respond when his rivals grew in confidence and upped the pace.

Miguel Oliveira (KTM), Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and finally Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) all found their way past the Australian, pushing him off the podium in fourth.

"It was a good start. Got out front, felt okay. Generally I find my limit in those conditions quite quickly. But I got into the '40 lap times and that was about all I had," Miller said.

"I was struggling a bit for rear grip, a bit of spin and just not having enough rear contact. More to do with bike set-up than anything.

"I was having to run 'square' lines in the turns and not able to let the bike roll in the middle of the corner simply because I think we were just a little bit too stiff on the rear.

"We had no laps on wet tyres over the weekend so it's kind of hard when you are guessing a set-up.

"The other guys were able to find some more pace towards the end and I wasn't able to. I tried to follow Fabio when he came past, I pushed a little bit more and understood where he was making up time.

"But the Ducati is generally pretty good when it comes to letting you know what the limit is in the wet, if you can push more or not. I had a couple of moments, because the rear would unload and then overload the front, one time my leg came off and everything.

"I was like, 'I'm going to throw myself in the gravel if I continue to do this'.

"So for me it was more important to try and manage the race and take as many points as possible, because honestly I didn’t feel I had the right set-up under me to win.

"I felt like I had the pace, I had speed, but I just found my limitation and then I was suffering quite a lot."

An early technical problem in Qatar also meant Sunday's finish was Miller's first of the 2022 season.

"Not starting with any points on the board [in Qatar] was not ideal," he said. "Fourth was better than zero for sure. We’ve got 19 races to go. A lot more can happen and hopefully we can keep chipping away at it because we didn’t start the season off on the right foot."

Miller is now eleventh in the world championship, 17 points from early leader and Qatar winner Enea Bastianini, who finished eleventh at Mandalika.

Factory team-mate Francesco Bagnaia struggled for front-end feeling in the wet and could only manage 15th place, which was also his first point of the year.