MotoGP news 2023, Jack Miller, KTM, Brad Binder, Portuguese Grand Prix, testing, season expectations, championship

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Jack Miller says he’s confident of a good result at the season-opening Portuguese Grand prix after his new KTM team made a big step on the final day of the preseason.

Miller has jumped from Ducati to the KTM factory team this season on a two-year deal as part of the Austrian manufacturer’s project to build into a regular race-winning force in the premier class.

But not for the first time, KTM seems destined to start the season undercooked, with neither Miller nor teammate Brad Binder able to coax much lap time with any great consistency from the RC16.

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Miller finished the final day of testing 17th in the overall standings and 0.941 seconds down on runaway leader Francesco Bagnaia.

Binder improved late to rise to ninth, some 0.4 seconds up the road, but the South African admitted that he was at the very limit of his bike just to move into the top half of the classification.

Notwithstanding the underwhelming raw performance, Miller said he was optimistic heading into his first season with his new team and that the gap wasn’t as bad as it looked after some big gains late during testing.

“We’re getting there step by step,” he told the MotoGP website. “Another nearly second [improved] today.

“[I’m] under a second to Pecco, who was nearly 0.6 seconds quicker than the lap record, so we are getting there.

“It’s just trying to understand it, trying to get comfortable with the bike to try some different things to improve.

“It just takes some time. But I think we’re getting to a decent spot before the first race.”

KTM’s pre-season campaign has been characterised by some frantic work to improve rideability and engine performance via software fixes. Miller even admitted that engineers were regularly rewriting the engine mapping code to extract better performance.

“Some of our maps just need polishing,” he said. “We were able to try to basically rewrite the code and make them new during the session.

“They’ve kind of been roughly done; they just need to be fixed up, polished up, to iron out a few of the little bugs.

“But nonetheless, I’m pretty satisfied. I mean, no-one’s ever satisfied with 17th position, but with the speed of everybody and so on, I think we can be quietly confident in that and take away what we’ve learnt from this test and try to learn from it and bring a better game come race time.”

Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Part of Miller’s challenge is adapting to bike based on a unique concept. KTM uses steel for its chassis rather than the carbon fibre used at Ducati or the aluminium used by other teams, and the Austrian bike is the only one in pit lane supplied by WP Suspension.

Combined with KTM being a project bike rather than an established and consistent frontrunner, and the adaptation required has been significant.

“I think we’re around a seven [out of 10],” he said of his progress adapting to his new machine. “We’re getting there.

“I feel very comfortable now — [the last day of testing] was a big step in terms of comfort level on the bike.

“Once you get comfortable, that’s when you can finally start to release the brakes a little bit earlier, step by step, and carry more corner speed and start to take a little bit more risk, and that’s what we’re doing.

“So I think we’re about a seven. But that’s the easy part. The hardest part is those last three numbers.”


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Looking ahead to this weekend, Miller was adamant that a better result than the team’s testing times suggested would be on the cards, though he was careful to keep expectations in check.

“I think once we go racing, things change,” he said. “Let’s say [we’re aiming for] top 10 at this point. We can be inside that top 10 here — especially with everyone doing testing and whatnot.

‘Racing is always different. So we’ll keep positive. I believe firmly that we can get inside that.”

The 2023 Portuguese Grand Prix starts tonight and is live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.

Practice is at 9:45pm (AEDT) tonight and at 2:00am and 9:10pm on Saturday.

Qualifying is at 9:50pm on Saturday, with the first-ever MotoGP sprint race following at 2:00am.

The Portuguese Grand Prix starts at midnight Monday morning.

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