Miller opens MotoGP campaign with eighth place in Qatar
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller achieved his first target of the season with a stirring ride to finish eighth in tonight’s opening round of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar.
Miller set a clear preseason goal of finishing top ten in the championship and he kick-started that with his performance in the shortened 20-lap race.
The race start was delayed by 45 minutes while officials waited for safe conditions and a rain shower to clear and they cut two laps from the race distance.
Miller made a brilliant start from 16th to be 10th on lap one before surging to seventh behind Honda factory rider Dani Pedrosa on lap eight.
However in tricky, cool and low grip conditions Miller settled for his top ten target of eighth when Aleix Espargaro and Scott Redding made late race charges to move ahead.
After a difficult and painful preseason overcoming injuries Miller’s Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Tito Rabat made a positive start to the championship, finishing 15th and opened his points account with a calculated ride.
From 19th on the grid Rabat set a solid race rhythm and moved ahead of Pol Espargaro to secure his points scoring finish with six laps remaining.
The championship moves to Argentina for the second round in two weeks.
Jack Miller: 8th
“After all that’s happened this weekend with the weather and the lost track time, it is a great way to start the season inside the top 10. The small crash in FP1 really set us back on Thursday and then the weather pretty much dominated the next two days. What I’m happy about is that I could carry the momentum gained in the preseason and I’ve felt better each time I’ve jumped on the bike. It’s very positive to be in the top 10 and the only disappointment is that I was a little bit tense on the bike in the first part of the race and I was squeezing the handlebars too much and it had a bit of an impact on the transition from brake to throttle. Apart from that it was a very positive finish. It’s a result both myself and the team can build on and I want to thank my guys because they gave me a really competitive package this weekend.”
Tito Rabat: 15th
“It is good feeling to score a point here in difficult conditions but also after a tough preseason with my injuries. This can be a tricky circuit in any conditions but I was happy with my start and had a good pace but then mid-race two Ducatis, Barbera and Abraham, came past and it was difficult to fight with them. I learnt a lot this weekend with my team, especially that I need to be more confident to open the gas.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was an entertaining weekend because of the tricky weather conditions but I’m happy with the performances of both Jack and Tito. I predicted ninth for Jack and he finished eighth, it was just a pity that in the final laps he could not keep the pace of Scott Redding. Tito did a good job to score a point in 15th so we leave here with both riders in the MotoGP points. All weekend the race officials were striving to make it safe for the riders to race and while the start was delayed I think the race certainly made up for that. It was an exciting battle to watch and a great way to get the season started. Thankfully when the forecast rain did arrive it did so after chequered flag.”