Jack Miller lamented being “the donkey” after qualifying 13th for Italian MotoGP on a day that got out of hand due to a technical problem.
The Ducati Lenovo Team rider will start twelfth tonight in tonight’s (AEST) race, due to a grid penalty for Jorge Martin, but failed to make it into Qualifying 1 at Mugello.
A rain shower during free practice 4 created uncertainty as to whether wet or slippery Michelin tires were the best option, and a mid-session switch from former to latter, despite continued rain showers, raised further concerns in Q1.
It was in the closing minutes of that session that Miller was followed by Marc Marquez, with Fabio Di Giannantonio only slightly further back.
The Queenslander was able to improve his lap time continuously, but his reference meant that the Repsol Honda rider and Gresini Ducati pilot could improve him every time.
Miller thus got stuck in third place at the end of the first stanza of qualifying, while both Marquez and Di Giannantonio advanced to qualifying 2, with the latter taking pole.
“It’s one of those things; you don’t really know how hard you can push because it’s raining on your visor all the time so you just go into the dark every corner,” the man known as “Jackass” told MotoGP’s official website.
“But if you have a marker — someone you see who survives the bend — it makes life a little bit easier, and unfortunately I was the ass today and it didn’t pay off.”
Miller said he fell in Q1 due to a chain reaction caused by a technical glitch earlier in the day.
Almost as soon as he went out in Free Practice 3, the last chance for riders to try and get a direct pass to Q2, he pulled out due to a problem with his Desmosedici and had to return to his second machine as soon as he got a lift back to the paddock.
“We started the day with the engine stopping on the first flying lap, so it’s not an ideal way to start the day,” noted the 27-year-old.
“It ruined the strategy in terms of the tire plan; the only option we had if we wanted to do more laps on the second bike other than the new tires at the end was to go with the preheated tires that had already been preheated for yesterday.
“Honestly, they made me feel terrible, we saw a big difference in the data, so there was no point in going out with them. They make you feel bad; that is it.
“So I waited, went out on one tire, had some time in between and went out on the second tire, but if you wake up and you have to throw a lap time on it right away, it’s not the most ideal situation.
“Yes, I was able to improve, but not enough.”
Not only did Di Giannantonio claim pole on a Desmosedici GP21, the top five in qualifying was a full Ducati sweep completed by Miller’s works teammate Francesco Bagnaia.
The start of the race in Mugello is scheduled for 10 p.m. AEST.