‘Stoked’: Aussie takes thrilling maiden MotoGP pole

JACK Miller will start from the first pole position of his MotoGP career after topping a thrilling qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Argentina.

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Held in damp but drying conditions, Miller gambled on switching to slicks to net the first premier class pole position by an Australian rider in five and a half years.

It also marks the first pole position for a satellite Ducati, Miller edging out Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Tech3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco with his last lap of the session.

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“I’m stoked, can’t thank the team enough for getting me here,” Miller said. “It’s a cool feeling, that’s for sure.”

The 12 riders started the Q2 session on wets, Miller doing one flying lap tha tput him well inside the top 10 before gambling that slick tyres would be up to the task.

“I remembered the race from Moto3 a few years ago when it was wet and they were all on slicks and they had really good grip, and I know here the wet tyres overheat really quickly,” he said.

“I went out on the wets, did one lap and it was quite a good lap time, I was happy to have one in the bank. Then it was an all-in bet for the slicks.”

Miller wasn’t the only one to test the waters on dry rubber.

Yes, no surprises, Marc Marquez was the one to have a go on slicks too, but he came straight back in for another set of wets without even starting a flying lap.

The Australian persisted, taking three laps to beat his wet-tyre time. His fourth lap, completed after the chequered flag, did the trick.

“For me, once I made my bet I had to stick with it,” Miller said.

“I knew I had to change and go quite quickly to do as many laps to build some temperature and to understand where I could push and where I had to be calm. I just kept working on trying to manage it.

“Through (Turns) 7 and 8 was the worst, it was completely wet, a lot of standing water and was very dangerous. I nearly went down a few times there by just trying to touch the gas a little bit and it just tried to go over on me.”

Miller’s pole-winning effort heads a mixed-up grid courtesy of the damp conditions.

Tito Rabat, the Australian’s former teammate at Marc VDS, will start from the best grid position of his MotoGP career after qualifying fourth, with Alex Rins’ Suzuki alongside.

World champion Marc Marquez could only manage sixth after reverting back to wets, 0.611sec off Miller’s pace, to round out the second row.

Qatar winner Andrea Dovizioso will start from the middle of the third row after fighting his way out of Q1. His factory Ducati teammate wasn’t so lucky, Jorge Lorenzo missing the final transfer spot into Q2 and consigned to starting from 14th.

The factory Yamahas will have to fight their way up from lowly grid positions if they are to repeat their 1-2 of last year, Maverick Vinales qualifying ninth while Valentino Rossi could only manage 11th.

The MotoGP race gets underway at 4am AEST on Monday morning.

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