Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller hopes the tight times during winter MotoGP testing ahead of the opening race this weekend in Qatar are a good indication of his podium chances from the very first round as the playing field is more level in 2018 than it has ever been before.
Both Miller and his more experienced Alma Pramac Ducati team mate Danilo Petrucci were buoyed with confidence after posting top ten times in the recent test at Losail.
“It’s a level playing field, it’s about as even as it’s ever been. In terms of the bikes it’s all very close, all very competitive. You know, when you say ‘well off the pace’ we don’t mean ‘well off the pace’, It’s crazy this year how close, the times have been,” said Miller, speaking in Qatar.
“I think that’s a little hint on how the season coming is going to be. I think it’s going to be one of the closest years yet and we’re also seeing a lot of riders in with a chance of a podium, so, I think it’s going to be an amazing year for racing - but it’s going to be a shitty year for riders because one weekend you could not have the best feeling and be struggling to crack the top ten, top eight.”
Over the course of the final test Miller and his team played around with settings until they could come close to their best lap after lap. With race pace consistency under their belts, they even have a small idea of which way they will go with tyre choice ahead of practice. “I still feel quite strongly the soft tyre will be the rear, it all depends on what the front tyre is going to be.”
While remaining pragmatic and not naming who he would like to be mixing it with, the Queenslander did say that he expects to be able to keep in contention at the business end of a race.
“I mean it’s too difficult to say at the moment, the position in the championship already, a ride inside the top ten would be nice. Pushing those front guys every now and then would be really good. At the end of last year we were able to do it for the majority of the race, in Valencia and also Australia, so I’d like to continue on from that performance and try to stick with them for as long as possible.”