Miller flies to fantastic fourth in Argentina practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller overcame hot and humid temperatures and a dirty and slippery track surface to play a starring role on the opening day of MotoGP action in Argentina.
Much of this morning’s FP1 was spent waiting for grip levels on the greasy 4.608km track to improve, with no racing activity taking place at the Termas de Rio Hondo venue since last December.
Australian Miller coped exceptionally well with the less than ideal grip levels to set the benchmark time for a period in FP1 before he ended the opening 45-minute session in eighth.
That was just a sign of things to come though from the impressive 21-year-old, who put in a sensational performance in FP2 to improve his pace by almost two seconds. A best lap of 1.42.375 was only bettered by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Vinales on a great opening day for Honda, who occupied four of the top five places on the combined leaderboard.
With stormy weather forecast for tomorrow, Miller’s outstanding performance could already be good enough to have secured him an all-important place in Q2.
Lap times were well over four seconds off last year’s fastest race pace this morning and as a result rookie Tito Rabat opted for a risk free approach while adjusting his lines and braking markers on the Honda RC213V machine.
Rabat quickly mastered the rapidly improving track conditions and at one stage in FP2 he’d climbed up to 12th with an improvement of close to 2.5s from FP1.
He ended the day 18th overall but satisfied with progress made in helping him gain more confidence on the RC213v machine.
Jack Miller: 4th – 1’42.375
“I am really happy with how today went. The bike seems to be working very well here. It is not only the fact that I’m fast, but I am also consistent and strong on used tyres. Conditions are changing lap-by-lap but I’ve been able to adjust and I just hope now that we can build on this to have a strong weekend. The only close call I had was when I nearly ran into the back of Valentino Rossi at turn eight. He braked a little later and I thought I had more stopping power and we touched a little. I thought I might clean him out, but luckily it didn’t happen!”
Tito Rabat: 18th – 1’43.538
“I don’t think 18th on the timesheets reflects what a positive day it was here in Argentina. I feel I’ve made a step with my confidence on the bike but the gap to the top group is still too big. They are unbelievably fast but I have to look at the positives and we are making progress. I am comfortable that I can be faster and closer and the encouraging thing of today was the level of Honda is very high. I’m trying my hardest to be up there too.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today was a fantastic day for us. The bike is clearly competitive with four of the top five riding a Honda and to see Jack in fourth is a brilliant performance and a great boost for the team. The track was very slippery this morning and to be honest I wasn’t sure if he would be as strong when the grip improved, so I have to congratulate Jack on an outstanding job. Tito is improving in every session and that is all we can ask of him at the moment. He is learning fast and it was a shame that he doesn’t have the experience or confidence to push harder on the soft tyre at the end of the session because I think he deserved to be higher up the rankings.”