When the #43 KTM took the lead in the Portimao sprint race, more than one observer rolled their eyes. Miller had struggled all winter on the Austrian bike, but at the right moment he showed what he's made of and also in Sunday's race he did not go badly at all.
For the Australian it was a way to silence all those who had criticized him.
“It was funny to hear the insight of the guys, the soft front surprised everybody, translating what I did on the Ducati to the KTM after I think it’s been renowned that all they can run is the hardest thing in the allocation. So to do 12 laps like that was nice - he smiled – I don’t know what it is. I think people still think I lucked my way into this job somehow. Because I get doubted more than anybody on this grid! To prove countless people wrong again has been amazing, it kind of gives me extra power.
Miller is used to being underestimated by now, but instead of bringing him down it motivates him. It remains to be understood why he is considered less than other riders, perhaps because he is not European?
"If I knew what it was, I'd fix it. I don't think it's being Australian because you've had guys like Stoner come from Australia in a long line of great Australian champions – was his answer - But one way or another I'm constantly doubted, and we've been constantly able to prove people wrong throughout my career, whether it be stepping straight up from Moto3 and people saying I was going to be gone within a year, and here I am still eight or nine years later, still going. I was a factory Ducati rider, I was told I would never win in those colours and I managed to do that. But I still get doubted. It's always nice and that alone, the sense of being able to prove people wrong and do it for yourself is awesome."
Such a good start has fired him up.
“It was a positive weekend all around. We made a big step from the test. To show our speed on Friday, then back it up in the sprint race. The sprint was the first time I’d done 12 laps on the KTM, the race on Sunday was the first time I’d done over 20. So it was an unknown weekend, I didn’t know what to expect, but the team put together an amazing package, a really competitive package. We did what we did best - go racing. It was a lot of fun. Watching the race back gave me a big sense of nostalgia thinking of 2014, wearing Alpinestars and riding the KTM. It made me feel young again, even though I’m getting old! It was an amazing fight to be with Pecco and the boys, dicing with them for a lap or two in the Sprint. The pace in the race was also decent. I had more to give at the end but I couldn’t find a way past Alex Marquez. It’s a massive boost to my confidence knowing that tyre life is there if needed.”
The Australian has a positive mood and a big desire to improve on things.
“The winter was very demanding, with a lot of new things: WP suspension, a new engine, steel chassis. But now I'm ready for the season, we've done a fantastic job - Jack assured - It's my most competitive start to the season since I've been racing in MotoGP and the best is yet to come. The race was very interesting to understand how the bike reacts, how the tires work. I was surprised by the durability of the rear. We have to keep working."
Miller also spoke about the incidents last weekend in Portugal.
“It was normal, the sprint race went well, these are things that can happen after 4 months without racing and with all the riders wanting to prove something – was his opinion - We are here for this and unfortunately certain things can happen. Because it’s Marquez, everybody wants to put the knife in, there's too much talk: Marc knows what he's done, racing is like that. If anything, there should be a line for penalties and it should be followed, while now they are moving away. We as riders try to improve this sport and if you hit someone there is a penalty, but I don't agree with those who ask to disqualify them."