Jack Miller says he backed off while leading the Australian MotoGP Grand Prix in the early stages as he was worried about managing his tyres and wanted to observe others.
Miller shot into the lead of his home Grand Prix on the opening lap at Phillip Island after a lightning start from the second row of the grid, stretching his margin to over a second.
The Marc VDS Honda rider stood firm until Lap 5, when he fell into the clutches, and eventually got overtaken by an eight-bike pack, all squabbling for the top positions.
While he made several appearances in the top three during the remaining laps of the hectic race, Miller was unable to claw himself back into the lead, ultimately finishing in a still impressive seventh place.
The Townsville based rider says he didn’t mean to lead for as long as he did in the first stint, and purposely backed off so he could use other riders as a ‘marker’ for tyre management.
“Honestly, on the third lap I buttoned off a little bit, just to allow the others to come through,” said Miller after the race.
“I probably pushed a little bit too hard on those first three laps and burnt maybe a little bit too much tyre than I should’ve.
“I wanted whoever was behind me to come through because I wanted sort of a marker, just somebody to set the pace so I wasn’t out there spinning my tyre off its head and destroying it.
“I probably did that a little bit too much once I got a few laps in behind Marc (Marquez), and understood what he was doing on his tyre in terms of Turn 2 or 3, and especially over Lukey Heights.
“I started doing that but it was probably too little too late. I have learnt what I need to do for next year, hopefully.”
Miller explicitly described his precious laps in the lead.
“I was just thinking in my head ‘Jesus, is this really happening?” he exclaimed.
“I got a decent start, then Marc [Marquez] sort of ran wide and opened the door for me. So I just pushed through because I thought, ‘What better place to be on the first lap than first?’ – especially into Honda corner because normally the more bikes you have behind you, you lose a lot more time there.
“So I pushed through and it was good, I had a really good opening couple of laps. I pulled out a little gap on the guys and it was pretty decent.
“I don’t know if it felt long for you guys, but it felt like f***ing forever for me!