Australian MotoGP ace Jack Miller’s remarkable return to racing continued on Sunday when he led his home grand prix for five laps before finishing a career-best seventh at Phillip Island.
Just three weeks after breaking his leg, Miller qualified fifth then stormed past pole-sitter and eventual winner Marc Marquez to the delight of the home crowd.
“I was just thinking ‘Is this really happening?'” Miller said.
“I got a decent start and then Marc ran wide and opened the door for me so I just pushed through – what better place to be on the first lap than first?”
But while the sight of the Marc VDS rider leading the field thrilled his home fans, Miller admitted he took a little too much out of his tyres in his excitement, which proved costly later in the race.
“I probably pushed a little bit too hard on those first three laps and burnt maybe a little bit too much tyre than I should have,” he said.
“I needed someone to set the pace so I wasn’t out there spinning my tyres and destroying them, but I probably did.
“But it was an amazing race to a be a part of and be up there dicing for top spot.
“It was a solid weekend all around – nearly top-five in every session – so I’m pretty happy with the performance of the team and the bike.”
The effort is even more impressive considering Miller’s place on the starting grid was in doubt after the training accident near his European base in Andorra.
The 22-year-old missed the Japanese MotoGP while he recovered and will race with a plate and eight screws just below his right knee for at least the next 12 months.
“It didn’t really give me any grief,” he said after the race. “I didn’t really notice it up until I went to do a burnout in front of my parents down at turn four.
“I straightened it out and it was a bit stiff, but while I was on the bike it was fine.”
Miller, who will switch from Honda to Ducati next year, improved to 12th in world championship standings with two rounds to go, while Marquez’s win saw him edge closer to claiming a fourth MotoGP world title.
Three other Australians were part of the action at Phillip Island at the weekend.
Broc Parkes, riding a Monster Yamaha Tech 3 for the ill Jonas Folger, finished the 27-lap MotoGP race last.
In Moto2, Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) finished in the points in 15th position.
Wildcard entrant Tom Toparis (Cube Racing) finished 22nd of 24 riders still on the circuit when the Moto3 race was stopped due to heavy rain.