Jack writes about his first dry-weather MotoGP podium in Austin, and why he’s as much relieved as elated after a result a long time coming.
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM
This one is late and going to be quick, but I think you probably know why. It’s taken a while for me to get that first dry-weather podium, so at least I’m consistent …
It’s such a good feeling to stand up there on the podium after the weekend we’ve had here in Austin, and after the speed we showed the whole way through. I’m over the moon with that. Right from Friday I was inside the top four and fastest of the Ducati guys, and it was a bit like Argentina last time when I was up there all weekend but just missed the podium. I didn’t think I rode that smart that day, I felt I was in fights I didn’t need to be in early on and that might have cost me in the long run, but today worked out great in the end. Just, but still great.
Starting fourth and finishing third when two guys in front of you crash out … maybe that doesn’t sound as good, especially when Alex (Rins) came through from seventh on the grid and beat all of us. But I’ll take it, don’t worry about that. It was a hot pace out the front early on, and you know what Marc (Marquez) is like, he’s always pushing everywhere but especially here, and the pace was really fast early on. Four of us, Marc, Vale (Valentino Rossi), Crutch (Cal Crutchlow) and me all took off out the front and Marc was setting a hot pace. I didn’t want to let them stretch away but we were on the limit from the first laps, especially me and Cal, from what it looked like tucked in right behind him.
Cal crashed pretty early and then Marc a few laps after as you all saw; it was a bit of a shock in some ways to see him on the ground but maybe part of the reason he crashed was that he cooked the front tyre because of the early pace. I knew pretty early on that the pace was going to be too much for the soft tyres I chose for 20 laps, so after he went down I knew I was third and had a decent gap behind me, and I wasn’t thinking about second or better at that stage, I knew I just had to get it home. Even now, I’m still sitting here pondering what might have been if I’d chosen to race the medium, but I’ll still take it.
They’re sometimes the hardest races when you have more time to think and you’re not in a battle; second was out of reach and I just needed to keep concentrated to keep third. With about nine laps to go I saw ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso) had got past Franco (Morbidelli) into fourth, and he was about five to six seconds behind me at that stage. I knew he’d be coming and that his tyres would be in better shape than mine when he got there, so I made sure I still had something left if I needed it, but it was tight. The laps just seem to take so long, and all you’re focused on is saving that front tyre, because I had massive graining on the right-hand side. At the end it was less than a second between us, so I was definitely stressing in those last few laps.
It’s a relief in some ways to get up there again, it had been so long since Assen in 2016, but for most of that time I didn’t really have the bike to fight for the top three. Right from pre-season testing this year I knew that I did, and then you have something happen like in Qatar when the seat breaks loose and you know you can do the pace of the guys at the front, and you wonder if that’s your chance gone. Argentina was solid and then this weekend was better, but it’s still nice to confirm that you can do it. It’s a reward for the all the hard work, both for me at the team. You probably heard that I lost my voice by the time I did the first TV interviews because the guys on the team were so pumped up when I got back to parc ferme, and after doing more TV interviews and a press conference and talking to a million other people, the voice is pretty much gone … and we haven’t begun celebrating properly yet …
There’s more to come from us I think, I don’t see this as being a one-off and it won’t hopefully be three years between podiums like it was last time … we have some good tracks coming up and I feel comfortable and confident everywhere at the moment, so hopefully I can get more used to this celebrating thing and maybe get better at it.
I’m right on the edge of the top five in the championship now, and that’ll be the goal once we get to Jerez in a few weeks. It’s a GP that typically hasn’t gone that well for me since I’ve been in MotoGP, but this is starting to feel like a year where we can change a few things. I’ll speak to you from there.