Grand prix

Austin MotoGP: Joan Mir sorry for Miller clash, but doesn’t respect penalty | MotoGP

Reigning MotoGP champion Joan Mir apologised for the last-lap COTA clash with Jack Miller, for which a furious Miller confronted Mir after the chequered flag.

The pair have made contact several times this season, starting at the Qatar opener, but the Texan tussle was the second time in as many races that Mir had bumped Miller on the final lap, costing them both places.

The latest clash occured while they were squabbling over sixth place, Mir making a clean pass on Miller earlier in the last lap before the Ducati rider slipstreamed ahead again on the back straight.

Mir then dived for the inside at Turn 16 but bumped into the side of the Australian on the exit, allowing Enea Bastianini to pass them both while Miller dropped behind Mir to eighth.

While Race Direction then reversed their positions by penalising Mir, the incident still cost Miller sixth place to Bastianini.

“I went into the corner, protected my line, everything good and then had a bike in the side of me. Got T-boned again,” said Miller. “It’s two weeks in a row he’s done the same thing and we both lose a position because last time Marc came through and this week Enea.

“Here, Misano, Assen…  Everytime I race with the guy he runs into the side of me. I think I am one of the fairer guys on the grid. For sure I can be aggressive when I need to be but I try not to run into the side of everybody and do that. I will pass, and try to be as clean as possible and sometimes accidents will happen but I’ve lost count how many times this has happened this season.

“In Misano I went from 4th to 6th, here from 6th to 8th. It doesn’t even make sense for him because he jams himself wide as well that he allows the next guy through. I think there are better ways you can go about the situation. That’s the way he wants to ride. All we can do is focus on my job and be in better positions because I was fading at the end of the race. I need to work on not being that guy, I need to be the one attacking. That’s the biggest issue.”

Of the one-place penalty given to Mir, Miller said: “They pick and choose the punishment that they like. Last week with Aegerter and Torres [in MotoE] it was a similar thing yet Aegerter got a 30 second penalty or something like that which was the perfect amount to let Torres win the championship.

“Fortunately for me I was able to stay on the bike. I don’t make the rules and I feel like I have controlled myself well. I’m getting older and more mature, that’s a nice sign, I guess you can say.”

“Well, first of all, I want to apologise because I don’t like to create contact in overtakes,” said Mir.”I did a great manoeuvre in sector one on the chicanes. I was able to overtake him in a really good way, but then we arrived to the straight and he just overtook me and gave me a couple tenths.

“Then he was just closing the lines. He was just not caring about riding. He was just inside the corner, almost straight… He was closing the lines, but it was a little bit strange.

“Turn 16, the left, is a good corner to overtake. I took the inside and on the second part of the braking he just made a really, really tight line that I didn’t expect. I touched the kerb to try to avoid impact, and then I touched him a bit. Luckily, we didn’t crash. Then I lost one place when Bastianini overtook me.”

After the flag, Mir waited for Miller on the back straight and didn’t criticise the #43’s reaction.

“I stopped on the straight and I was waiting for him just to blame and to do some things. He was threatening me and doing something, but when you are in this type of situation, I can understand,” Mir said.

“I think Jack is a good guy. Like I said, if he was me, I would be also angry. So, I don’t have nothing to say about him. He was just saying, ‘See you in the next one’. or something like this. Australian style, let’s say.

“But, nothing to say about Jack. He’s always respectful in the race. He’s a good rival, so there’s nothing to say. I’m sorry for the manoeuvre, but I don’t respect the decision of [FIM Stewards].

“I think that the penalty is completely… I don’t understand, because if all the races are like this, you don’t overtake. You just don’t try. Better don’t try. Racing will lose its essence.”

Referring to the decision not to penalise Miller when the pair had clashed at the final corner in Qatar, Mir said:

“Probably the [Stewards] were not the same ones as in Qatar, when what happened to me with Jack. They probably were on holiday today, those ones. Not much to say…”

Mir remains third in the championship, without a win this season. Double 2021 race winner Miller is now up to fourth, 8 points ahead of Johann Zarco and 26 behind Mir with two rounds to go.

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