Ready to Rock N Roll Down Under: Thriller Miller Looking for the Win
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Ready to Rock N Roll Down Under: Thriller Miller Looking for the Win

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 14 October 2022

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2022 Australian MotoGP is here! After three long years, we have returned to the famous island and are ready for the riders to fly around the picturesque circuit that truly captivates audiences across the globe. This weekend is very important for the World Championship as numerous riders are battling it out with a handful of rounds remaining. The weather is sure to wreak havoc and of course questions have been asked about whether team orders will come into play! We feel Australian rider Jack Miller will give it his all and try to win considering he is within a chance of winning the title, is at his home race and of course departs from Ducati at the end of the 2022 season. If you were in “Thriller Miller’s Shoes” what would you do? To some it is a three-racer showdown, although what happens if one of those contenders was to crash out or have a poor weekend and not gain any points. The pressure will be on especially for Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia to perform as both teams have expectations, both riders want the top honour and then you have Aleix Espargaro the underdog focusing on what is needed to remain with the front runners to at least have one hand on the trophy before it is all over. Phillip Island has in the past been challenging for the Ducati machine, so it will be interesting to see how it pairs against the Aprilia, Yamaha and Honda motorbikes.

Credit - (Bagnaia, Quartararo and Espargaro)

The strategy for Quartararo is to take it race by race because he views the current World Championship almost like the start where they all have minimal points separating them from one another. This is an interesting mental choice for the French rider and with last years’ experience, he knows what it takes to win. With that said, the Thailand Grand Prix for Quartararo was a disaster and his armour dented after no points, missing the public media debriefs and deciding to put a pause of his social media use. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider wants a back-to-back World Championship and right now is having to do it the tough way which will be exhilarating to watch as the races unfold in live time. In the back of Quartararo’s mind is Bagnaia, Espargaro, Miller and Enea Bastianini. The confidence this weekend does exist for Quartararo at the Phillip Island circuit, and we will be watching closely to see how each session frames up for the French rider. With all the negativity from Thailand, Quartararo’s engineer Diego Gubellini made a mistake which he has admitted occurred. The mistake was with the tyre pressures. The pressure generated very low grip and as a result forced the French rider backwards. It was impossible for Quartararo to perform based on the comments made by his engineer and things could have been much better. Unfortunately, they paid the price. The data has been analysed in anticipation of Australia which is vital to ensuring that Quartararo can push this weekend if the sessions are wet or with mixed flag to flag style conditions. On Thursday, it was torrential, and part of the circuit had been flooded due the volume of rain. Sunday, light outs, will be interesting.

Fabio Quartararo #20:

“The result in Thailand was very disappointing. After Thailand I could focus on getting ready for this final part of the season. I’ve spent the week training and preparing because the next two races are back-to-back, and they are going to be really important, but I don’t feel worried. The championship is a level playing field now, so it’s a matter of doing our best, working well together as a team, and scoring as many points as possible.”

Credit - (Bagnaia & Quartararo)

The cat with nine lives is Bagnaia who appears to have luck on his side more than most. Will that luck run out in Australia? The Ducati rider is only two points away from Quartararo though has had some cards go his way which have certainly enabled him to stay within reach of the World Championship. The debate is team orders and what Bagnaia expects of his teammates. The Italian rider has regained eighty-nine points in the last seven races. Right now, Bagnaia feels their potential this weekend is very high, and they are in a good moment to use the bike to its advantage. Whereas, for A Espargaro it is to make no mistakes which is not an easy task when you are under immense pressure both as an individual rider, team member and with the entire brand on your shoulders hoping they can celebrate the number one trophy. It is time to deliver and time to attack are the key words spoken by the Aprilia leader. When he speaks, his focus is there, the intensity clear and the desires igniting like a red-hot flame. The Spanish rider wants it! The question is, can Aprilia produce a race winning bike for the next three events? Twenty points across three races is a challenge and he is up for it with a smile. In comparison, Miller has a genuine chance and is having the time of his life. Not only is he a married man now, but the Australian has also found his form and the fans are eager to see it on display this weekend. The key area of difference for Miller is that he is genuinely enjoying riding the bike, having a ball and if he continues to have fun, pull some decent results and ride with confidence, the Championship is still there within reach. Of course, Miller will not do anything silly to jeopardise his teammate chances, although if the fight is there to win, he will go for it.

Credit - (Miller & Bagnaia)

Pecco Bagnaia #63:

“After the Thailand GP I went home for a few days and now I am ready to face these other two consecutive rounds in Australia and Malaysia. I am thrilled to be returning to Phillip Island, a very fast circuit where I am convinced that we can do well. Now we are two points behind Quartararo, but this does not change our approach: we have to stay focused, work well starting from the first round on Friday and aim for victory in the race. Now more than ever it is important not to make mistakes. We will see how the weather will be. In the last GP we managed to find a good feeling in the wet, but we still have to get to Sunday ready to face the race in any condition "

Credit - (Miller)

Jack Miller #43:

“I am really very happy to return to Phillip Island and finally compete in my home Grand Prix with the factory Ducati team. The last time we raced here was in 2019, and this weekend will be the first time that my family and friends will see me racing live wearing the Ducati Lenovo Team colors, for which I am happy and proud! We come from a period in which I have found a great feeling with my Desmosedici GP: the bike works really well and my sensations improve race after race, so I can't wait to get out on the track and fight again for a good result."

The one rider who could potentially throw a spanner in the works this weekend for the title contenders is Marc Marquez. Not only is he quick at the Phillip Island circuit, but he is also regaining the confidence to push his body and bike to secure a podium or victory. The Repsol Honda Team courtesy of Marquez are celebrating the small milestones. This is a great way to leave behind the pressure of performance and to just be happy riding the bike once again. We must note that this weekend for safety purposes, the technical director Danny Aldridge along with the governing bodies who are involved in the regulation of the sport, have allowed the teams to remove the side pods. This is due to the weather conditions including extreme wind. The complete side pod must be removed. Example: Ducati have the upper, middle, and lower side pods. This would mean the entire package must be removed. The profile of the fairing must stay consistent as per the homologation. Once this has been completed, the bike will need to be checked and the technical director briefed for him to be convinced it has been removed within the rules and regulations appropriately. The streamline effect remains as is and the side pods are basically sliced off in a way. With that in mind, teams can remove the side pods by choice. This is not an enforced rule and is a decision they can action as a team. The Repsol Honda rider MM93, is sure to push his limits and really shift gears towards a more positive overall riding position, feeling and result. Marquez mentally is super strong, and we feel this has added to his recovery mission. It is almost like Mick Doohan after he overcame a major leg injury to ride once again. You will see a determined Marquez this weekend. He admits the decision to come back originally was too early and this created a bubble of doubt. The Spanish rider has grown and developed as a person to become a better rider, athlete, and team member. Four surgeries in two years, it is a superhuman effort to see him fully fit once again and smiling knowing how tough the Phillip Island circuit can be on the mind, body, and spirit. The fact the multi-World Champion can admit a big crash to a big mistake is really closing the chapters on his doubts which is a display of superhuman strength to see beyond the pain of making an error. We look forward to seeing the Spanish Ant trackside.

Credit - (Marquez)

Marc Marquez #93:

“Phillip Island is a great circuit to ride, it is very different to almost any other track on the calendar. I’ve had a lot of memorable races there and it’s almost always a nice battle, especially in the first laps. You have to be very careful there with the weather, especially this year it looks like it can be very cold and with a lot of wind – it’s something we have to pay attention to. Again, we have to see what’s possible this weekend, I have kept training and I feel my condition getting better each day. After three races in a row, the week off was really welcome for me.”

As we look forward to Sunday’s race, we also pay tribute with a minute’s silence to acknowledge the passing of legend Phil Read and young rider Victor Steeman who sadly passed away after a crash during the Supersport 300 in Portugal. They will be forever in our hearts and memories.

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