Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller said that late changes to his Desmosedici made during Q1 were key to him securing his third MotoGP front row start of the season in Motegi.
Miller was having trouble keeping the rear end of his Ducati down in the heavy braking zones all weekend, however Miller said that his Pramac team found something during Q1 which saw him benefit once Q2 began, as he qualified in third position, just 0.182 seconds behind pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso.
“Yesterday and this morning we still didn’t find the solution [to keep the rear down] until FP4, in between FP4 and during Q1 we pulled the bike apart and changed a few other things and really found a good setting for the qualifying.”
Miller crashed out of his fastest lap in qualifying after posting what would ultimately be his best time of the session. The Australian admitted that he thinks he could’ve gone faster than he did in qualifying and his crash was down to over excitement after seeing his first sector time.
“The first tyre I threw at it, I was only meant to do two laps in the run,” he said.
“But after the second lap I made a small mistake coming out of turn six, so I decided to do one more and immediately it was faster than all I’ve done all weekend with three laps in the tyre. So I felt good.
“Once I had the banker I put the other tyre in, went out and the first flying lap, which generally isn’t the best one, was my best one. Because the next lap I went through the first sector and was 0.19 under the lap time from before and got too excited and braking too late for turn five and went down.”
Miller said he isn’t expecting to be able to challenge with the likes of Dovizioso or Marquez tomorrow in the race, but he did admit the pace he has shown on used tyres has surprised him over the weekend.
“This is the third front row for us this year and I think if FP4 shows anything, Dovi and Marc have both have really good pace,” said Miller.
“But I was surprised with our pace. I still wasn’t very comfy with out bike and I think the change after FP4 improves it a lot and I feel we had the soft on in FP4 and we were able to do 21 laps and still in the .6 middle to low so I’m pretty confident in out pace.
“But as you said, its just surviving the first couple laps and the track is always a little dirty and green in the first laps as it was in Misano and caught me out, so try not to get too overly excited tomorrow.”