Jack Miller topped the standings on the opening day of the Valencia GP despite a morning crash on his Ducati GP21.
Friday’s morning rain caught the MotoGP class out, with settings ready for a dry practice and no threats showing on the forecast. The downpour brought with it the usual Valencia issue of track surface complications with Miller sliding out in the closing stages of the first 45-minutes.
Despite the turn one fall, Miller ended the morning second in the standings before topping the times in the drying afternoon - from Pol Espargaro and his Ducati Lenovo teammate Pecco Bagnaia.
The Australian was his usual straight talking self as he discussed the fall with questions raised over the suitability of the Catalan circuit’s surface.
“I had no chance at all,” Miller said of his turn one crash. “I went in a little bit hot. I felt good, went in there a little bit hot and I thought 'You know what, it's FP1, just run a little bit wide, it'll be okay'. I didn't want to force it and maybe have the chance of crashing at turn one. So I was like, 'Okay, I'll just go on to the paint'. I thought I was more or less not too leaned over so I didn't think it was too bad. But yeah, as soon as I hit that stuff, it was like I hit ice. Honestly.
“I don't know if it was a combination between the paint or if there was a lot of standing water on it because you can't really see anything. There's no depth perception over those white and orange lines. But yeah, definitely caught me off guard. I wasn't ready for that.
“I hate crashing and when you have a shit one like that, it's never nice, you know? I don't know if you count that as a crash but for sure it goes on the list at the end of the year. I was able to turn it around at least, in the afternoon. So that's a positive!
“I felt good,” he said, turning his attention to FP2, in which he finished on top thanks to a 1’30.927 best. “I felt like I could push how I would like.
“For sure I want to change the bike a little - we went back a little bit more to a setting from last year and it's not that great in terms of balance on the bike. So just gonna try back to more or less our base setting that we've been using throughout this season, rather than try and jump the gun.
“I enjoy, I like riding here in Valencia,” he continued. “It's fun. It has challenges. The track is technical, you need to wrestle the bike quite a lot. So it's a fun place to be.
“It's not the greatest,” he admitted when discussing the differing and ageing track surface around the 4kms layout. “I only really noticed it in the wet, but there's a lot of cracks in the surface, where the asphalt is cracking just from the earth moving I guess underneath. Into turn 10 there's a fair few cracks, I saw them in the wet and then a lot of other places, turn two as well.
“On that old asphalt, it's amazing. Always, every year we come here, that asphalt into turn one, you get halfway down the front straight or nearly three quarters down the front straight and then the spray stops, the asphalt's draining really, really well. You go through turn one and as soon as you come in halfway between turn one and turn two it goes back to the other shit that has heaps of spray. There's a lot of standing water.
“It's not the easiest of asphalt, and even today I came in after my first run and said 'Boys it's starting to get a bit dodgy out there’ - like aquaplaning on the angle and stuff like that through turn nine. There was little rivers actually starting to run across the track because this track doesn't really drain as great as for example turn one - which is the same track but yeah, different asphalt.
“For sure it's getting close to the time where it's gonna need to be resurfaced. It's got a decent run out of it, I think. We know how good this place can be. The lap record was set in 2016. So I mean, we're all pushing don’t get me wrong.”