Thriller Miller Wins In Jerez! The Ducati Factory Shines In Spain
Author: Myanna Wedes
Jack Miller has conquered the mountain in Jerez, winning his first grand prix with the Ducati factory and silencing the critics who were continuously calling out the Australian rider. It was an interesting race from lights out with Fabio Quartararo, Pecco Bagnaia, Alex Rins, Joan Mir and Franco Morbidelli battling it out. The Ducati factory are laughing as a result of the 1-2 finish and taking charge on Spanish soil where for the past ten to fifteen years they have struggled to keep up with the pace. No doubt, the Yamaha was the bike to beat in the corners and at one stage, Quartararo was running away with the victory until his lap times dropped like a fly out of the sky. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider looked on course to win, though Miller was silently staying within contention every step of the way. It was a totally different game of strategy. We have to say that the Australian rider did a wonderful job of consistent laps, showcasing a calm mindset and letting his riding do the talking. It was nice to see Miller’s emotions demonstrating how much this victory meant to him, his family, team and fellow racing friends who have cheered him on. Moments like this one in racing let alone sport, define an athlete and this victory will be sealed as one of his greatest! When it comes the Ducati team, their passion is incredible and as we watched the key team personnel in the box, they were quiet and patient. It was an electric energy as the two bikes crossed the finish line and is a clear indication of how seriously they take racing in MotoGP as a key manufacturer. The dynamic between Bagnia and Miller is one of strength, with hugs all around as together they are stronger than as a solo act.
"The last two weeks have been tough for me: I couldn't trust myself and what I can do on the bike. Today, when I saw Quartararo struggling, I thought I could try to take the lead, even though I wasn't so confident that I could stay in the lead for so many laps. But finally, I did it and took my first win with Ducati. I can't thank Ducati enough for giving me this opportunity. Wearing these colours is a dream come true for me, and it means a lot. Thank you, Gigi, Paolo, Davide, Claudio and the whole team for having always believed in me".
"Today in the race, I felt really comfortable riding the Desmosedici GP bike, thanks to the great work done with my team over the weekend. I started to push after the first four laps not to stress the rear tyre too much: my pace was good and allowed me to catch up with my opponents and pass them. In the end, I was even catching Jack, but with two laps to go, I preferred to defend the second place. Today's result is really incredible, and I hope we can continue like this in the next races, which will be held on tracks favourable to our bike. Tomorrow we will have another day of testing, so we have to stay focused".
Luigi Dall'Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager):
"I think I'm the happiest person in the world right now: Jerez has always been a difficult track for the Ducati bikes, so to be able to finish first and second today is crucial for us, especially from a technical point of view. Both riders had a sensational race and were fantastic. They knew how to run a mature race: Jack kept a good rhythm and perfectly managed the race, while Pecco did an incredible performance, ending second and taking now the championship lead. Congratulations to both of them, to the team and all of Ducati Corse”.
On the other side of the grid, it was heartbreak for Quartararo. During the race, we thought it was his tyres going off and causing him grief entering and exiting the corners. At one stage, we caught a glimpse of him wincing and the arm being held at the end of the race, which triggered that it must be physical and something like arm pump. In 2019, Quartararo had some issues with the syndrome so it will be interesting to see how he addresses it over the next two weeks before a home grand prix at Le Mans. The condition of arm pump is serious and has been quite common with the riders, in particular Miller this year and Cal Crutchlow last year as examples. Once the riding is limited with arm pump, the rider suffers emotionally, physically and looks to surgery as the best method to be healthy, fit and active once again. It appears that the French rider will be due for a similar procedure to Miller if it continues to impede on his ability to win. Surprisingly, in comparison, Maverick Vinales was slow. He has not been at the top level from like he was from lights out, race one and this time round in Jerez struggled in the slower corners which impacted his overall result plus a poor qualifying position which puts added stress on his overall performance. To be frank, we expect more from Vinales. We are waiting to him put this into gear and charge at the forefront. Right now, he also has Miller to deal with as his victory is sure to keep the positive mentality he needs to stay at the front for additional victories and podiums.
“The arm pump problem was clear today. For more or less 10 laps I could hold Jack Miller at bay by one second, but then I suddenly had no more feeling in my right arm. We were in a great position to win here. I could have even gone a bit faster. Our strong point of riding on the used tyre was finally not necessary, because I didn't have any power left in my arm. I will take my time today to think over the situation and try to make the best decision about how to deal with arm pump as soon as possible. My home Grand Prix is coming up next, and I want to be fit there, that's important to me. I know that the bike works well there and that I will perform well. I want to solve this problem as fast as possible, but in the best way.”
“Our rhythm was quite good, but everyone was going very fast, and it was very close in terms of lap times, so if you don’t start at the front it’s going to be a hard race. If we had started from the front, it would have been a different kind of race. But we did have a problem in the slower corners, and that’s something we need to work on. On the rest of the track the bike was fantastic, but I had to brake really early to turn, and I lost too much in that area. I think if we solve that, the bike will be fantastic, so overall we are on a good level.”
In terms of those who are recovering to a strong level, Morbidelli certainly made his bike present in the race and walked away with a podium trophy even on a two year old Yamaha! It felt like a win for the Italian/Brazilian rider. Morbidelli was consistent, fast and having a great time riding. He was not erratic, focused on the grip levels to ensure his bike was putting in the lap times to avoid any threat from Takaaki Nakagami who did a wonderful job on board his LCR Honda IDEMITSU machine as opposed to Alex Marquez crashing on the first lap and having an early shower. His teammate, Nakagami looked exhausted after the race finished, red faced and relieved. Some will say it was the disappointment of missing out on a potential podium finish as his pace towards the end of the race was the fastest on track! Both Morbidelli and Nakagami are improving greatly and will be on course to continue their battles at the front after a rocky start to 2021.
“I’m really happy about my performance during the race. I had a good start and from the beginning to the end I gave my best. We had good pace, really consistent and I’m happy about that myself, but we missed another podium chance, only by six tenths so I have mixed feelings. The team looks really happy and it was a good weekend, we were really consistent and P4 is a great result for me and the team. I’m really looking forward to the next race in Le Mans. We need to carry on like this, we’ve definitely found good pace.”
“It was an incredible race and I was able to push so hard throughout the entire race. This morning my Crew Chief Ramon [Forcada] was able to work a bit of magic to increase our grip and improve my feeling on the bike. The whole team has done a wonderful job this weekend and it meant that I was able to ride really strong and aggressively. I’m really pleased with this result and that I could reward the team with this podium. It feels wonderful to back up there, especially as the championship is a lot tougher this year, it is very competitive. I’m enjoying this moment a lot and I hope it continues in the next races.”
Lack of speed, grip issues and problems with the bike once again are three problematic areas for “The Doctor” Valentino Rossi. It has been very hard to watch the Italian maestro at the back of the grid time and time again with lack of confidence in his machine. The bike is not working with him and Rossi is feeling the pressure to try and score some decent points let alone run at the front of the pack. Testing is going to be an important part of the bike growth in order for Rossi to feel comfortable once again and start to rub shoulders with the front runners. At present, the multiple World Champion is lacking and it certainly shows which is hard for Rossi fans to watch considering his previous years of dominance.
“It was a difficult race because I did not have the speed and I suffered a lot with grip issues, in fact the pace that I had during the race was pretty much the same as in practice. In the beginning I found it hard to stop the bike. It did improve a bit and I wanted to try to score some points, but it was not possible today. It has been a difficult start to the season, but I do think that we can be competitive, so we need to work to understand how to improve the pace. We have a test tomorrow, so we will be able to try some things then. Hopefully this will give us some answers ahead of the race in France.”
Marc Marquez fans must be very happy with his result this weekend all things considering after a major accident that could have left him injured or worse. Luckily, the air fence was there and it caught him at such high speed enabling him to escape unhurt. No doubt, finishing in 9th place is not ideal, with that said, Marquez has only been back in action for a short period of time. The more track action, the more physical stamina he will build. He has to be proud of his achievement after his crash this weekend, watching Brad Binder crash, his own brother go down on lap one as well as others which can serve as a constant reminder of the risks involved with two wheel racing. The mental strength of the Spanish Ant to race and fulfill race distance is a true credit to his warrior style of pushing and defying limits. In contrast, Rins is feeling down after another DNF and Mir wishing for more. As these riders navigate the up and downs results, Marquez can quietly stay on track to full fitness and really push himself when he is comfortable in doing so. We must keep in mind, MM93 was absent from a Honda machine for an extensive period of time whilst Rins and Mir have been super consistent.
“Of course today we would have liked to be further ahead but we should be happy. In Portimao we finished 13 seconds behind the leader and here only ten, this is the main target. Like in Portimao I felt strong in the middle of the race, but I lost some time at the start and the end of the race and overall I felt like we have made a big step compared to our last race. I can now understand more about the bike. Tonight we will decide if I will test tomorrow, it is important to do some laps if we can to keep understanding everything with the team. It hasn’t been the best weekend in Jerez, but an important step and I want to say a big thank you to Honda and my team this weekend for their incredible work.”
“For sure I expected more from this race, but I gave 100%. It’s easy to say now ‘maybe we should’ve changed this or that’ but in reality you’ll never know if these things would’ve helped. After all I was competitive and I fought for the podium, and I wasn’t far away from that, so I’m satisfied with the work done here in Jerez. This isn’t the best track for us and the hot conditions made things harder too, but I’m glad to take the points for 5th place and we’ll look to improve again in Le Mans and hope to get some stronger results in the next races.”
“The crash today was a shame, it was bad luck really. There’s a bump at that corner, and normally it’s not much of a problem, but with the full fuel tank it felt quite bad and then the rear stepped out, I released the brakes, braked again, and went wide - that’s where I lost the front, on the dirty part off line. But despite losing part of the aero-fairing, I rejoined, had nice pace and I actually felt very good. I was faster than the leading group. I’m really sorry to all the team who have worked really hard as always. Let’s continue to work for the next races, and I hope to qualify much better so that I can be at the front and stay there."
The next race at Le Mans is challenging because of the COVID-19 situation and the nature of the weather where it can be very unpredictable. Plus, with Honda riders using various packages, arm pump causing emotional chaos for Quartararo, Rossi wanting to go faster, Vinales up and down, Miller dialling in the laps like never before, Bagnaia leading the title and much more! We are in for a real showdown in Le Mans especially with two French riders seeking glory on homProtect your Motorcycle. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.