Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller was ‘happy enough’ to complete the Malaysian GP in sixth after finding himself at the back on lap one.
A difficult qualifying position was made twice as challenging after the Australian faced his ‘worst start’ in Grand Prix racing at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday. Despite gaining ground off the line, Miller was boxed in then run wide in the first corer melee, finding himself 21st and with a lot of work to do in the 20-lap race.
“A race here in Malaysia is always pretty hard but when you start 14th and end up 21st exiting the first corner - it was probably my worst start in my grand Prix career!” Miller admitted from the Sepang paddock. “I kinda got sandwiched. Got a good jump off the line, went forward a row but wasn’t enough to creep in front of those boys. They came together, I kind of had to back out of it and that in turn allowed the guys that were up the inside to brake pretty deep so I got stuck on the outside and hung out to dry basically.
“Wasn’t ideal,” he continued. “I just had to try and slot back in, in a relatively safe place. I was being extra cautious, back there it’s kind of crazy but I was able to put my head down, keep my pace. I was able to ride a mistake free race throughout. Make some decent overtakes on a lot of guys and eventually I just had Marc [Marquez] there in front of me on the last lap.
“I was able to understand where I was stronger and make a move at turn four on the last lap so that was nice, you know, to have a little bit of a battle. The pace was good. I felt really good all weekend it was just a shame about the quali but we can’t get that one back.”
While Miller was enjoying slicing his way through the pack, the Ducati rider was still carrying injuries left over from the heavy smash with Alex Marquez which took him out of his home GP last weekend.
“Happy with my performance today considering the leg and everything, the rest of the body held up really well,” Miller confirmed. “So I’m pretty happy with my physical condition to be able to sort of compensate for having the dodgy leg. The rest of the body was able to sort of take control and carry us over the line.
“I hate ifs and buts,” he said when asked ‘what could have been’ without the poor start. “That’s how it worked out for us today. That was the card we were given today. I need to be better simple as that. The qualifying wasn’t ideal but I was happy enough to slice me way through and eventually arrive to sixth, not too far off the boys in the front there. It could have been a different race but that’s what we got today.”
There were celebrations in Parc Fermé for both teammate Pecco Bagnaia - who claimed the race victory - and the Ducati Lenovo squad as a whole, having clinched the team title for the second year in a row.
“To get that thing done with one race to go is a mega job by the team,” Miller said proudly. “To have that two years in a row is awesome. To be Constructors champ already, three years in a row with them. I’ve been here for all of that so it’s pretty cool to be a part of it.”