Jack Miller took the same tyre gamble as his Ducati Lenovo teammate for the Emilia Romagna GP with Misano’s turn 15 causing him the same pain.
Miller had looked equally as strong as title challenger Pecco Bagnaia as the Desmosedici duo swept away at the front of Sunday’s 27-lap race. The Australian looking at one time as if he would better his younger cohort, but the coming temperatures of the afternoon’s coastal conditions proved his downfall after just four laps, with the penultimate corner catching him out on the hard front tyre’s cool left side. An even more bitter pill to swallow after Suzuki’s Joan Mir - Miller’s main rival in the standings heading into the race - had fallen shortly before.
“Nothing wrong with turn 15,” Miller confirmed after the race. “I think it was more to do with our choice. We went a little bit left field and tried the hard front.
“It seemed like a masterstroke, the feeling was good. Around like one o'clock it looked fantastic, like it was going to be a great idea but then as we were on the grid, clouds started coming in and the track temperature was sort of borderline - I'd done it in the test but yeah it wasn't quite warm enough.
"I was quite close to Pecco at turn eight, I didn't break as hard and I think that could have also affected the temperature in the tyre. I didn't force the tyre as much at turn eight, just because I was just trying to drop back a little bit and then when I arrived at turn 15 I had no hope of even trying to save it. Just as soon as I put it on angle, looking at the data now, it just took off away from me so nothing we could have really done about that.
“We tried to shoot for the fences today. It looked like a masterstroke, both Pecco and I had a great pace at the beginning and Pecco was able to continue on for a fair few more laps but yeah, it wasn't easy.”
A little bit,” the Australian admitted when questioned if he had more pace than his teammate from the outset.
"His rear tyre looked like it took a little bit more to get going on the left side, he had quite a big moment in front of me out of the exit of the last corner. I was quite close to pass but I sort of backed out of it. Then that was the lap that that I crashed on, the following lap. I was there. Like I said, I felt like I had really good pace. I was able to, even if I dropped out or we got quite close at turn 10 - he braked a little earlier than I expected, I ran in on him a little bit, had to go a little wider and that gave him a little bit of a gap and I was able to close down immediately the gap, but it only lasted till turn 15!
“Disappointing for myself, for the team, for everyone. It's just one of those days that you just want to forget but we tried. We tried our best again, looked fantastic all weekend but wasn't to be today.
“We change on the grid every time anyway,” he continued, discussing the tyre strategy. "Our plan was always to go with hard. I'd made the decision around 11 o'clock, once I saw the track temperature was around 24 degrees. I was like, 'Alright, that'll be the one,’ because we have quite a considerable amount of front locking in a straight line with the medium. That's what happened to Martin. When you try to really force the thing on the brakes that you get some strange locking. With the 'H' it doesn't seem to happen so much so that was mainly the objective.
“We knew it was going to be tricky on the left hand side especially, I was more concerned about the first two laps. I got past them relatively easy and felt good, but yeah, it was a joint decision. The team knew what we were doing. Pecco knew what he was doing as well. My decision was made, his decision was made on our own, or like, by ourselves. Felt really good with the medium [rear] tyre, as I did in the test. As I said everything was shaping up to be a good one but just wasn't to be.”
Despite only running for four laps, Miller remained confident with the tyre choice and suffered no warnings otherwise during the opening battles.
“No, nothing,” he said simply. “Even like turn six - which was a bit of a disaster yesterday in terms of losing the front there. Just with that sun being out, because you touched the left hand side, you know you do the last two corners, and then the first sector was relatively easy - turn six, turn eight, even turn two felt really good. But yeah, every time you go round that first one you sort of hold your breath but I obviously didn't pay enough, or put enough caution into how hard I pushed into that last corner I guess you could say. It's just one of those things but yeah no warnings up until that point.”
With both Ducati’s down, the fight for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship was a done deal for Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, despite the 22-year-old starting the second Misano race from 15th on the grid. Miller and Bagnaia were amongst the first in pitlane to congratulate the Frenchman on his achievement as he came home in fourth, and with a new title to his name.
“Fantastic,” Miller commented, on Quartararo’s success. “Also to see the show after race was really cool to watch. I think for the spectators, it was amazing. He's a deserving champion, he's won what five races this year? Been the most consistent. He's had his difficult races, and the difficult races he's been able to make into not bad races so he's definitely a deserving champion. Amazing to see France get one. Really, really happy for them. Of course, you know, we wanted to push it to as late as possible, but it wasn't to be but really, really nice to see that and you know he's a good young boy, Fabio, so I'm very happy for him.
“All things go our way, it's only 10 points in the teams championship now and we're still leading the manufacturers,” he explained, on the aim for the concluding two races of the season.
“So that's the goal, I’m more disappointed because Joan had crashed out, I saw that, and then not one lap later I threw myself in the gravel so rather silly because I cost myself quite some points there. I could have made up some decent points on him today, so it's just made that even harder. Back to fifth now in championship so that's a bit disappointing, but anyway, we'll keep fighting till the end and see what we can do.”