Jack ‘Thriller’ Miller proved he is a serious contender for the MotoGP crown in 2021 with a masterful ride to victory in the French Grand Prix.
Le Mans has been his bogey track in the past, and he could have died after a giant crash in 2017, but he was untouchable on his Ducati in treacherous dry-wet-dry conditions as he led Johann Zarco and Fabio Quartararo to the flag.
His only mistake was when he got over-eager as he raced into the pits for a bike change in a downpour and broke the speed limit, but once he had served a penalty he got back to business at the front on a day when it was easier to count the riders who stayed upright than the ones who fell.
Remy Gardner also starred at Le Mans, taking second in the Moto2 race as he continues to lead this year’s second-tier championship.
For Miller, who started from third, it gave him back-to-back wins – the first Aussie to do it since two-time world champion Casey Stoner in 2012 – and showed he can cope with anything including well-worn tyres that slide and squirm under him.
His celebration included wheelies and a giant stoppie before he hugged the senior Ducati management who have put him at the tip of their world title thrust.
The race started in threatening conditions, was hit by a storm that forced the riders to pit and switch to their back-up bikes with wet tyres and settings, and finished on a mostly-dry track that had some riders thinking about switching back to a ‘dry’ bike.
“Hectic, very hectic. The first couple of laps were dodgy on the wet tyres but then I go going,” said Miller.
“I just felt comfortable, to be honest. I was just riding into the conditions. I had to up her a bit for the last five laps but the track was pretty much dry again.”
Miller never looked like falling and he managed the tyres brilliantly, one of the shortcomings for a rider who often sacrifices race pace for qualifying speed.
“I was counting down the laps. Yeah, absolutely amazing. Back-to-back wins is just fantastic.”
Miller is now fourth in the title standings, behind Quartararo, his fellow Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia and Zarco, but only 16 points away from the lead heading to the next race at Mugello in Italy.