Jack Miller takes deserved second row at Motegi


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider takes fifth place on the grid after suffering a heavy highside. Hanika earns a spot on the eighth row after also crashing.


The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had an eventful qualifying session in Japan. Although both riders suffered crashes in the session, buy Jack Miller managed to qualify in a creditable fifth position that will allow him to start from the second row on the grid for the fifteenth round of the year. Karel Hanika was unable to participate in the last four minutes of the session after his crash,  and was relegated to twenty-third position.

A fall at Turn 2 during the first 20 minutes of the final free practice session prevented Hanika from putting in significant kilometres to finish setting up his KTM. He contributed just 6 laps, with a 1:59.885 best putting him 33rd. Teammate Jack Miller used new tyres on his last run to set the best lap of the weekend up to that point –a 1:57.072.

In the qualifying session, the Australian suffered a huge highside fifteen minutes in when coming out of Turn 5. In pain, Miller picked the bike back up to get to the garage and, seven minutes later, went back out on track. This did not prevent the Australian getting back on the pace, setting a 1:57.081 lap for fifth. Hanika put in his fastest lap of the entire weekend –1:58.184, 23rd– before another crash prevented him from riding for the final four minutes.

The race will start tomorrow at 11:00am local time at Motegi. This will be the first Grand Prix in Japan for Hanika, whilst Miller will seek to get onto the podium after finishing in sixth place last year.

Results – Qualifying practice
1. Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) 1:56.555
2. Niccolo Antonelli (KTM) 1:56.899 +0.344
3. John McPhee (Honda) 1:56.907 +0.352
4. Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra) 1:57.049 +0.494
5. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:57.081 +0.526
23. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.184 +1.629


Jack Miller >> Audio (solely for radio use)

“Today went pretty well. Despite the crash we suffered, we can be really happy because the bike is working very well. Also, the whole team is doing a great job. They managed to repair the bike very quickly and were able to get me back out on track to set a good time, so I am very grateful to them. The overall feeling is quite good and now we have to focus on the race. We have to wait until tomorrow to be able to benefit from the good work we’ve done so far.”

Karel Hanika >> Audio (solely for radio use)

“I think today we were a bit unfortunate. Already in morning things did not go perfectly. We have changed some aspects compared to yesterday, but step by step I have been improving and I felt comfortable from the first run this morning. However, on my second time out I made a gear shift mistake, something that we had modified, and I crashed. That meant we couldn’t make full use of the session. I had confidence though. In the qualifying session I started quite well, but maybe I needed someone in front of me in order to improve my time.

I had a good pace by myself and did not make mistakes up until I tried to latch onto someone and made an error on a corner. I hurt my back in the highside,  but I hope it is not sore tomorrow. We’ll see if tomorrow we have a little more luck.”