Miller slams Qatar MotoGP schedule change

Jack Miller, Qatar MotoGP 08 March 2024 // Gold & Goose / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403080641 // Usage for editorial use only //
Jack Miller rides in the wet in MotoGP FP2 at the Qatar Grand Prix. Image: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

For the first time ever, the MotoGP field completed a wet session under lights after the heavens opened at the end of the weekend’s second Moto3 session at Lusail.

However, by the time that pit exit opened for the premier class field, Race Direction had decided to change the session to ‘Free Practice 2’, rather than that which determines the starting order for Qualifying 1, following a vote amongst the riders.

Instead, the Q1 start list will now be set by the results of the session which takes place on Saturday afternoon immediately prior to the two, 15-minute qualifying hit-outs.

Miller was fourth-quickest in the wet Friday session and ninth- in FP1, meaning he would be through to Qualifying 2 already if not for the rule change.

He dealt with spray while following other riders in FP2 but felt the conditions were not so bad.

“It was wet,” said the Queenslander.

“The conditions were the conditions. We should have had a P2. To continue changing the rules and changing the strategy and changing the whole f***ing weekend is a joke.

“It wasn’t necessary. At the end of the day we are riders. We are paid to ride to the conditions, not to complain about every time it rains or every time it’s windy.

“I understand the stuff that can really mess you up. But when it’s riding to the conditions [it is different].

“We are all riding out there with tinted visors; a full-tinted visor in the night.

“Rain is rain, it was everywhere. You can see where the muddy line was forming, it was not an issue whatsoever.”

Marc Marquez, who was fastest in FP2 and fourth on the timesheet in FP1, essentially agreed.

“We had a meeting, we voted,” recounted the Gresini Ducati rider.

“I voted to keep the schedule because in my opinion, if we’re allowed to go out, it’s because it’s safe. If it’s safe we can do a time attack.

“So, if we do tomorrow the practice then the qualifying practice then the sprint race, it’s even worse.

“But we decide that in the past, because we tried, we were allowed to ride on wet conditions. On this race track the runoff areas are super big, if it’s more slippery or less you go slower or faster.

“In the end they vote, I respect their decision but I was not agreeing.”

Ducati Team rider Francesco Bagnaia, though, had a different take.

“Yeah, but the thing is if you are behind someone – and I was behind a rider for three corners – I was completely blind,” he said.

“So if you are behind 10 bikes, I think it will be a big problem.

“Or we put 15 tear-offs [on our helmets], like motocross, or it can become a problem.

“So, it’s something we will need to speak about in the safety commission.”

MotoGP previously postponed/cancelled wet sessions under lights due to visibility concerns, but changed its policy following an experiment when the Lusail track was deliberately soaked at the end of a test in 2018.

No further rain is forecast this weekend.

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