Jack Miller writes about being an innocent bystander in some first-lap chaos in Germany, and a comeback ride that left him happy but annoyed with himself in equal measure.
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM
Started 14th, finished 14th – doesn’t sound like much of a German Grand Prix, does it? But there was a lot more going on in that race than what it looks like in the results, and while 14th isn’t going to get me that excited, it’s better than being where I was after three corners, which was last and almost in the fence.
It was a pretty chaotic start in the middle of the pack, and you probably saw what happened when Pol (Espargaro) ran into (Alex) Rins and I didn’t have any choice but to run off track at Turn 3.
It all actually kicked off before at Turn 2 when Pol hit me, he definitely rode a little bit out of control on the first couple of corners. He then hit (Andrea) Iannone and Rins, I forget in which order but he hit both of them, and I got tangled in it. I ran off through the gravel trap, managed to miss all the bikes and riders and got as far as the wall, managed to stay on and dug myself out of that, and there I was in last place, 29 laps to go and a fair way behind the rest of the pack for something I basically had nothing to do with. An innocent bystander, basically. So from there, it could only really get better …
From there it was head down, bum up and salvage what I could. I managed to get two points and somehow stay inside the top 10 (just, but I’ll take it) in the championship, and the good thing was that the pace was pretty decent. All weekend we’d been working on the race pace and that had been a challenge, because 30 laps around Sachsenring is a tyre management challenge as much as a race. The race pace felt good and my fastest lap for the race was ninth-fastest overall, so it probably shows you where I could have been without the incident. A pretty good recovery for me, really.
My pace was good enough to be well inside the top 10, that’s the annoying part. But part of that is on me too, because I’ve got to qualify better than where I did in 14th. That’s three races in a row I’ve missed Q2, and that’s the problem when you get buried for the start like that, you end up back in the pack with those sorts of guys and there’s always drama. For the second half of the season we have to recover some of the qualifying pace from the first half of the year; I was in Q2 for five of the first six races and you can avoid some of that other stuff when you’re ahead of it and they’re all running into one another instead of me. That’s got to be a focus for me because someone else’s problem can destroy your race like it did for me this time.
I’ve been coming to the Sachsenring for a while now, my first world championship race on a 125cc was actually here seven years ago, and while there’s some unknowns with whether we keep coming back here, I hope we do. It’s a small track, the shortest we ride all year and the race is the most number of laps, and it’s a strange place to ride a MotoGP bike because it turns left all the time and there’s no real straights to speak of. But I don’t mind it at all, it’s got a character of its own, and the place is always packed with fans – it was hot here today, there’s 90,000 people packed in, it’s a good look for MotoGP. It’s enjoyable because it’s different. It’d be pretty boring if all the tracks were the same with one kilometre-long straights and whatnot, so you wouldn’t want 19 tracks like that, or 19 like this. A mix is good, so for that reason I hope Sachsenring stays on the calendar.
We’re nearly at the halfway stage of the championship now – nine races down, 10 to go – and I’m keeping to that pre-season goal of being inside the top 10. I’d probably hoped for better after how well things started with the pole in Argentina and the fourth place at Le Mans, but 10th so far is something to build on.
We have a mid-season break now, but it’s not as long as it used to be, just two weekends, so there’s no going back home to Oz for me. I’m at World Ducati Week at Misano in Italy next weekend which should be a bit of fun, and I’m going to drive my van there to do some dirt-tracking and whatnot. Then it’ll be a drive back to Andorra, eventually – there’s no real plans yet – before we have the back-to-back at Brno and Red Bull Ring. The Ducati should go pretty well at those tracks, so there’s two to look forward to.