Jack Miller returned to the MotoGP podium for the first time since his wet 2016 Assen victory, courtesy of third place in Sunday’s Austin round at COTA.
The result marked the Australian’s debut rostrum for Pramac Ducati and first in the dry since Valencia 2014 in the Moto3 class.
“It’s great to be back here. Long time between drinks, that’s for sure!” Miller smiled.
On form all weekend, Miller had qualified as the top Ducati in fourth, a position he held at the start of the race.
Holding third from lap 6 onwards, Miller was ultimately able to secure the podium position by one-second over factory Ducati star and new title leader Andrea Dovizioso.
“I had a lonely old race for about ten laps to go,” he said. “The soft front tyre wasn’t ideal. Missing the FP3 and FP4 due to the weather was real crucial in me making that decision because I rode with the medium front on Friday and just didn’t feel too comfortable. After speaking with these guys [Rins and runner-up Rossi], they had similar problems.
“Today it seemed to come back into its own. It seemed to be a bit better. I started really struggling a lot with the right-hand side on the soft front. The rear was perfect the whole way through so I tried to manage it the best I could.
“I saw Morbidelli was behind me for about five seconds. Just tried to manage that gap. Then I saw Dovi got in front of him, and then it started coming down quite quickly. The heart rate started going back up. But it was a good race.
“Marc got a great start and really pushed, and Vale went with him hard. Crutch and I, I felt on the limit, quite literally. They were like qualifying laps at the start. We were pushing really hard. I didn’t want to let them stretch too much out.
“I think that was part of the reason Marc crashed was how hard he went at the start. He overcooked the front obviously and just was trying to get the temperature down and wouldn’t do it. I was fortunate today with the two crashes [ahead], but we’ll take it.”
Promoted from a year-old GP17 to the latest GP19 this season, Miller has qualified in the top five at all three rounds so far. His Qatar chances were ruined when his seat foam came off, but he has finished fourth and third in then events since.
“Since we glued the seat on properly it’s been roses!” he joked. “We’ll see what we can do in Europe…”
Miller is now sixth in the world championship, just one point behind Danilo Petrucci, whose factory team ride he hopes to secure for 2020.