Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller joked that he now understands how ‘frustrating’ it has been for riders competing against his former Ducati MotoGP team after experiencing for the first time in Portimao what it is like to be on the opposite end of the GP23/22’s superior power edge.
Miller emerged as one of the unexpected stars of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship opener in Portugal last weekend upon making his anticipated debut with KTM, the Aussie belying a low key build up in testing to tussle towards the front of the field in both the Sprint Race and the main GP.
Coming away with a solid haul of points for fourth in Saturday’s shorter outing and seventh in the full length encounter, Miller says he is excited by the potential of the much revised KTM RC16 package.
“It was a positive weekend, from the first roll out Friday we made a big step from the test and to show our speed on Friday and back it up in the Sprint Race,” he told assembled media in the pre-event press conference.
“It was the most laps I’d done on the KTM at that point, then Sunday was the first time I’d done over 20 laps.
“It was definitely an unknown weekend, I didn’t know what to expect, but the team put together an amazing, competitive package come race time.”
For sure, the races were certainly an eye-opener for Miller, not least the discovery of how difficult it is for rivals to overtake a Ducati in a straight line having spent five seasons basking in its upper hand in terms of top speed on the Desmosedici.
“The race was interesting, just to understand how the KTM reacted. You learn in practice but it is constantly in and out, so to put consistent laps on the tyre, I was really surprised at the life the rear tyre gave me.
“We had a great fight with Pecco and the boys, dicing with them for a lap or two.” he continued. “The pace was decent, I got to understand what the Ducati power is all about when you’re on the opposite end of it, it can get a little bit frustrating.
“We all need to give him [Pecco] more headaches, he’s rolling on Cloud 9!
“I had a little bit more to give, I just couldn’t find a way past Alex [Marquez] but it was a massive boost to my confidence.
“To start our year off like that, with all the changes we have made, to be there so early on is awesome, it’s probably my most competitive start to the year. Hopefully a sign of things to come.”