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Miller: Rins flipped me off as he overtook!

'He came past me with his elbow on the ground and flipped me off with one hand in the air! That tells me the Suzuki is turning pretty bloody good there!' – Jack Miller on Alex Rins.
Miller: Rins flipped me off as he overtook!

Jack Miller was given a graphic illustration of the contrast in cornering speed between the Ducati and Suzuki MotoGP machines during the recent Barcelona test.

The Pramac rider said he was twice followed out of the pits by good friend Alex Rins, but was helpless to keep the Spaniard at bay through the long Turn 4 right-hander, much to Rins' amusement.

"We made some headway in terms of stability and a little bit of rear grip, but we're still missing a little bit in turning," Miller said of his Barcelona test work.

"That was my biggest thing at the test, trying to get some more turning, because for example Rins - he was complaining about being around us Ducatis in the race, that he couldn't really pass us. It wasn't due to lack of speed as such, he said he was getting some buffering and stuff like that.

"So then the bastard, I had to go out and I had him on my arse for two runs consecutively, he sat behind me. On the first run I could hear him every time at the same place where he passed me twice in the race and where he passed Petrucci and they came together; Turn 4.

"Every time I went in there I could hear this [engine noise] up the inside and I was just waiting for him to go by. Then in the second run he ended up coming past me and the prick came past me with his elbow on the ground and flipped me off with one hand in the air! That tells me the Suzuki is turning pretty bloody good there!

"So that's what we were trying to do [at the test], just get some more turning. No matter what I did, because I knew he was coming, I'd brake early, get it in as early as possible and even kill the corner speed to just hold the inside. But I just couldn't do it like he could. It was impressive."

The factory Ducati team had a modified chassis to try at the test, which Miller will get access to at Assen this weekend.

"We've got the part now, we didn't have it in Barcelona, so we've got one bike setup with that on and hopefully, fingers crossed, it will help for turning," said the Australian, the leading satellite rider with sixth place in the world championship.

"But yeah [at the test] we tried let's say a few different variations, especially in terms of geometry, changing the bike balance and everything. [The turning is] getting better, but it seems to be one of our biggest problems, especially in corners like [Turn 4]. Really long corners where you open up on the gas and try and keep it turning while opening the gas, that seems to be our biggest downfall.

"It just starts running wide, and… you physically can't turn anymore. Then all weekend we had a bit of a headwind at Turn4, so as you get halfway around that corner the wind hits you and starts pushing you even wider.

"But I'm not too concerned [for Assen] because there is only really one corner like that. It should be good."

Indeed, whilst the Ducati still struggles in the long corners, Miller believes big progress has been made when flicking the bike from side-to-side.

"The Ducati this year has improved especially in change of direction, we saw that in Texas. I felt it a lot easier there. So that's giving me a little bit of positivity let's say, to know that the change of direction shouldn't be too much of a struggle.

"And here it feels like you're doing Mach 1 when you change direction!"

Miller finished fifth in the Barcelona race after another good friend, Cal Crutchlow, ran wide and fell as he tried to overtake in the closing stages.

"Cal came to see me after the race and said 'sorry mate'. I said, 'f**k, I'm sorry for you!'

"Because he honestly should have been on the podium with the pace he had. It was a shame for him, but I was straight back in the same position so it didn't really bother me too much!

"Last weekend was a special one with the tyres, so I'm hoping this weekend the tyres gel a lot better with this surface.

"But I think it's going to be a conservative race.

"Michelin have brought an even softer tyre than we had here last year, so that'll be interesting. Because last year we used the hard or soft, the medium didn't really work that great. So this year the medium is sort of the soft from last year and the hard is the medium, but with the new compound."

Miller took his first MotoGP win in the wet at Assen, for Marc VDS Honda, in 2016.

"I don't know if I can do it again this weekend, but we can give it a go!" he smiled. "The forecast looks good, no chance of a wet race, so we'll just have to go for it in the dry..."