Jack Miller maintained Ducati’s test-topping pace as opening practice got underway at Qatar for the first MotoGP race weekend of 2021.
Third at the end of FP1, despite a fall without consequences at turn four, Miller improved his best time by over a second during the late-evening run, closing Friday with a fastest lap of 1’53.387, only seven-thousandths away from the current all-time circuit record.
“It was a bit of bumpy start due to the crash in FP1, but then the day ended well,” the Australian said late on Friday night. “It was nothing really, just a combination of the wind and using the medium tyre, I just pushed a little bit too hard into turn four.
“I already had a moment the run before, and I said to the team when I was in the box ‘who crashed at turn four’ and they said Zarco. I said ‘yeah, it was easy to do, it’s very slippery’ and then sure enough I went out and on my first flying lap I crashed there, so that was nice
“In the afternoon, the wind made the conditions difficult,” Miller continued “but towards the evening, I found the feeling with my Desmosedici again. I set a very good lap time with the soft tyre, which is just seven-thousandths off the track record. I’m delighted.
It was important to close these first two sessions well because tomorrow in FP3, with the higher temperatures, it will be tough to improve. We were all very close today, and I expect very fast times in qualifying. I am excited and eager to head out on track again tomorrow.
“From what I see in the forecast the wind is going to be up from the opposite direction than what we had today - we kind of had like a tailwind more or less, like a tailwind sideways, mainly blowing you at turn three, four and six.
“In the test we had quite strong winds but more from a headwind point of view and when the headwind is there the bike seems to be working okay. I really hope the wind turns because I don’t feel fantastic with this tailwind but we just have to wait and see.
“With the headwind it’s always better too because we’ve got a lot of horsepower so we can push through the wind a little bit easier.
“Today was more like a qualifying session, you could say, because we know that for FP3 tomorrow, the times aren’t easy to do in the afternoon, so today was key. I think that will determine more or less Q2, I can’t really see too many people improving tomorrow.
“As you see the times are incredibly close already, it’s FP2 and, okay, I was top, but Zarco’s fourth and he’s not even two-tenths away from me. I was 0.007s off the all-time official lap record, in FP2, which is not normal, so I’m a little bit scared of qualifying and where that’s gonna lead us.
“There’s many guys going fast and, as we saw right off the bat, Franky was incredibly fast and strong - he did the fastest lap this afternoon in the third run and he didn’t change tyres unlike a lot of them. I had to change tyres, my plan was to be like Franky but when I threw the bike at the gravel I had no other choice.
“Franky, for the moment in my books, is the guy to beat, but we will see what happens. I was in the box at the time Pecco did his lap time and to watch it was impressive. To see from the outside, when you see somebody getting along with the bike like that, it’s always nice to watch.”