After five years as a Ducati rider, Miller joins the factory KTM squad for 2023. But the transition was a difficult one of the winter, as the RC16 lagged behind its rivals throughout testing as all riders struggled for rear grip.
Ending FP1 at the Algarve International Circuit in 12th, Miller made a shock jump in lap time of almost 1.9s to produce a 1m37.709s in FP2 to end up as the only KTM rider progressing directly through to the pole shootout qualifying session on Saturday.
“To be honest, I’m as surprised as you guys, especially on the time,” Miller said on Friday. “[I’m] not [surprised by] the improvements, but of the time. I wasn’t expecting a 1m37.7s but, hey, I’ll take it.
“We’ve been working extremely hard, and when I say ‘we’ I mean mainly the engineers. I’ve done f**k all in Australia for the last four months. They’ve listened to everything I’ve said and my comments and my wishes and my demands.
“And already with the new engine we made a big step, and then with the new chassis, and also with the change in philosophy in terms of electronics and stuff.
“We’ve made a massive step, and exit by exit, session by session I feel like I can make this bike my own and start to exploit the strong points of the KTM.
“On entry, the front feeling gives me a great sense of confidence in the front, lap by lap, corner by corner because you get an amazing reading off the tyre.
“I had a couple of moments today, the bike really gives you an amazing feeling and I’m able to save these crashes.”
Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Saturday offers the field its first race action with the new-for-2023 sprint contests, but Miller is keeping his hopes in check following his Friday heroics.
“We will focus on doing our work,” he replied when asked if he could start to think about fighting for a podium this weekend. “Like I said. I wasn’t expecting a 1m37.7s today. It’s very nice to have.
“Also being able to use the soft front tyre on the KTM for a time attack like I was doing in the Ducati is very nice, very different to what they [KTM] were doing in the past.
“So, we will see what we can do tomorrow in the Q2. My objective today was to be in the top 10 and we were able to do that by a considerable margin. Then the sprint race will be full attack.”
Source: Boxing News 24