Miller’s courageous comeback continues at Phillip Island
Miller openly declares his love affair with the fast and sweeping 4.4km seaside circuit where speeds reach 335kph.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller equalled his career best MotoGP qualifying performance with a stunning fifth fastest time in qualifying for his home race at Phillip Island.
This second row starting spot mirrors his qualifying performance at this race in 2016 when he finished tenth in the race.
But the gritty Australia is determined to deliver a much better result in this year’s 27-lap race, which is round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship..
Showing no loss of speed despite riding with a plate and eight screws in his right leg Miller has made a courageous comeback from a training injury suffered just three weeks ago.
Miller will roll onto the grid tomorrow just 23 days after fracturing his right tibia.
In both the wet and dry conditions during practice and qualifying Miller has been smooth and fast aboard his Honda RC213V and is confident that he will have the stamina to go the race distance at full speed.
Miller’s practice pace put him directly into the Q2 qualifying session and he secured fifth on the grid with a time of 1’28.964, which was just 0.5s off the pole position time set by Marc Marquez.
Jack Miller – P5
“I am really happy with my condition and feeling on the bike just three weeks after my injury. I love Phillip Island so it is really cool to be going fast at my home track. Fifth place is a good spot for me in the race and I’m hoping to make a strong start and hook-up with the top group, I feel I have the race pace to do that. Once I’m on the bike my leg is not giving me any trouble and I think it will be good for the race, I’m ready to go.”
Marc Marquez displayed a great pace on the second day of the Australian Grand Prix, topping the wet FP3 and the dry FP4 before taking a superb pole position to extend his record of poles to 72 in career, 44 in MotoGP, with seven this season and four in a row at Phillip Island.
His amazing qualifying achievement also earned him the fifth BMW M Award in succession, as the best qualifier of 2017.
Marc Marquez -Pole Position 1’28.386
“I’m happy because I felt good in every session and in every condition. We found good speed for the single lap, but we were also able to keep a good rhythm in the practices, which is what really counts for the race. I think that the work we did in the FP4 session was important. I was also very comfortable in qualifying, but I encountered some traffic at some points. I understand that the slipstream is important here, and it’s okay if some other guys follow during the practices, but in qualifying I obviously preferred to ride alone. I just waited a bit before exiting for my second flying lap and then I had the chance to do a really good lap. I’m happy with this pole but the race is tomorrow. It’s true that Dovi is a bit behind on the grid here, but also at Motegi he was only ninth! We just have to wait and see how the weather is tomorrow, as it seems it will be unstable like today. Then I’ll try and give my 100% and push from beginning to end.”
Maverick Viñales was quick out of the gates at the start of the 15-minute Q2 heat. His first flying lap of 1‘30.116 saw him very briefly hold eighth place, but he was just getting started. His third attempt saw him climb up to sixth, behind his teammate, but there was yet more in store for him. He headed back to the pit lane for a tyre change with less than seven minutes of the session remaining. Two minutes later the Spaniard was back out on track and showed he meant business, immediately dropping a 1‘29.146s lap to swap places with teammate Rossi, for fifth place. He kept piling on the pressure on his next lap and briefly secured pole with a 1‘28.719s, before being pushed back to second place, by 0.333s. Thanks to this strong performance, he will start tomorrow‘s race from the first row of the grid.
“Honestly, this was a better result than I expected. Especially in FP4 I didn‘t feel so good on the bike. I didn‘t feel as great as I did in the winter tests, because the tyres are different, especially the front. During qualifying, in the second run, I felt good and felt I could push, so I‘m happy about that. We have been struggling a little bit this weekend, but I think we found a way now and we will try to give our best tomorrow. For sure we will be hoping for dry conditions, but we are finding ways of improvement in the wet, so I‘m happy that today‘s practice sessions helped us learn a lot. Tomorrow I‘m going to ride my own race. For sure I will push and apply pressure to my main rivals if I can, and do my best.”
Valentino Rossi had to negotiate his way through Q1 and made it look easy. He was one of the last riders to leave the box to be ensured of some clear track as he fought for a place in Q2. His first flying lap put him in fifth place, but it soon turned out that this was only a dress rehearsal for the 1‘29.665s he posted on his next try, which secured him provisional first place. Unable to improve on his next attempt, he ended his first run with six and a half minutes remaining. A minute and a half later he checked out of pit lane again to defend his number one spot. With the pace heating up in the final minutes, the Doctor responded by flashing red-helmet times in all sectors and clocking a 1‘29.346s on his last lap to maintain the top position with a 0.359s margin, allowing him to successfully promote to Q2. The Italian continued where he left off when he started the second qualifying session. He exited the pits as the last rider, hoping to find some clear track again for his qualifying efforts. His second flying lap of 1‘29.260s was enough to put him in fifth position, 0.376s from provisional pole. He made a quick pit stop with eight minutes remaining, before continuing his strong qualifying challenge. The nine-time World Champion was back out with five minutes left on the clock. He was on the attack once more, but he was unable to better his time on his next lap. He continued pushing and set a 1‘29.203s, improving his time, but he dropped back to sixth place. Not able to make further strides on his last lap he was pushed back to seventh, with a 0.817s margin to first. He will start in tomorrow‘s race from the third row of the grid.
Valentino Rossi P7
“Unfortunately I’m not fast like last year. It was already quite good to recover some positions coming through Q1, which is always dangerous. I’m seventh, which is not fantastic, because I was able to ride a quite good lap time very early, but after that I was too much on the limit at the corner entry. I wasn’t able to improve on the last lap to start tomorrow’s race from a top-5 position. We have to work, also because the setting is not fantastic. We have to try to modify something and after that the weather will be very important. We hope that the weather tomorrow at four o’clock will be like today and that we can race with the slicks. We will see.”
Andrea Dovizioso will start from the fourth row of the grid in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. After finishing eighth in FP3 in the morning and then crashing without harm in the next free practice session, the Italian took part in Q2, which was held on a dry track, and finished eleventh with a time of 1’29.496.
Andrea Dovizioso – P11
“The crash in FP4 conditioned my qualifying session a bit. We could surely have gone quicker, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to ride as well as yesterday and so we start down the grid. A real pity, but that’s the way it went and now we have only to think about tomorrow to try and work out where we can improve, because in any case my pace with the medium tyre is not bad. We’re not going to give in and we’ll see what we can do in the race.”
It will be a sixth row start for Jorge Lorenzo, who after yesterday was outside the top 10 and who this morning was not able to improve his time in the wet FP3 session. The Spanish rider crashed out spectacularly, suffering bruises and a sprained left ankle. Jorge however took part both in FP4 and in Q1 but was unable to do any better than sixth (1’30.085) and will start the race from row 6.
“It was a very tough day because things went totally in the wrong direction. This morning the rain meant that it was going to be impossible for us to improve enough to get into Q2 and obviously the crash didn’t make the situation any better. It was a bad crash and I rolled over a number of times in the gravel: I immediately thought I had broken something, but luckily the x-ray ruled out any fractures and only confirmed a sprained left ankle, which hurts a lot. In this condition we weren’t able to improve the bike in the dry and tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain, we’ll go back to our original settings on Friday to try and make a step forward. It’s going to be a long hard race but I will try and find a good pace and fight to the finish.”
Broc Parkes is getting to grips with the Tech3 Yamaha and qualified 20th in the 23-rider field.
Weather forecasts indicate continuing changeable conditions for tomorrow’s MotoGP race, which will get underway at 1600 local time.
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.644
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.817
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.885
SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.935
CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 1.043
DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 1.110
PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1.160
RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’29.824 Q1
RABAT Tito 53 SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS 0.501
ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team 0.615
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team 0.739
BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing 0.878
PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing 1.125
BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 1.197
REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 1.460
PARKES Broc 23 AUS Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1.543
BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team 1.554
LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.812
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) has taken pole position for the Australian GP, taking P1 by only 0.008 seconds from Dynavolt Intact GP’s Marcel Schrötter at the front of the field. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took third to make it three chassis on the front row, with teammate Brad Binder lining up in fourth for a best qualifying result so far in Moto2.
The two title contenders were off the front row, with Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) the first and taking fifth as he lines up to try and push for glory – just ahead of teammate Alex Marquez. Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten), meanwhile, took P10.
Motegi poleman Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was seventh after a moment on his hot lap, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) and Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten).
Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) took eleventh, ahead of Japanese GP podium finisher Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up), who completed the top fifteen.
Australian Moto2 rider, Gardner secured 16th place in qualifying. The Tech3 Mistral 610 rider had a stronger day compared to Friday and even managed to place as high as seventh in Free Practice Three. He wasn’t able to transition that pace into Qualifying. Gardner is still a solid chance to score points for tomorrow’s Moto2 race.
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took pole position in the Australian GP, on top by two tenths as the field returned to the pits to wait for a final shootout and then found conditions deteriorate with some light rain. It is the Spaniard’s eighth pole of the year, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing) and Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) joining him on the front row.
The weather began dry at Phillip Island before the rain on some parts of the track made it impossible to improve times, and that left some high and dry as the final push for grid positions was abandoned. Mir and Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) protagonised the mid part of the session as the two went wheel to wheel on track in a teaser for what could await the crowds tomorrow, with the Italian lining up only two places behind Mir, taking fifth. The man separating the two to head up the second row is Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team), with Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) completing Row 2.
Manuel Pagliani (CIP) took seventh to head up the third row ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders Aron Canet and Enea Bastianini, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) showing more good pace on Saturday to complete the top ten.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Marco Bezzecchi (CIP), Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing), Lorenzo dalla Porta (Aspar Mahindra Moto3) and Motegi podium finisher Niccolo Antonelli round out the fastest fifteen – with Antonelli’s teammate Bo Bendsneyder another big name to miss out after some great pace all weekend; the Dutchman in 19th.
Moto3 Wildcard, Toparis of Cube Racing Team has had a tough time getting the bike to a competitive level to head into qualifying in a position of strength. Toparis would eventually qualify in 31st place, after completing 12 laps on his Kalex KTM machine. It has been a learning experience for the Goulburn teenager this weekend, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a racing scenario on Sunday.
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