MotoGP 2021 Feature Article: Jack Millers time to shine
Jack Miller gets a dream factory ride with Ducati for 2021, now it’s time to shine.
Jack Miller is one of the hardest working riders in the paddock, that is an undisputed fact, he has worked his ass off to get to where he is on the Official Ducati Team for 2021, a hugely coveted seat which has names such as Troy Bayliss, Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso within his history, an official MotoGP factory seat is the best of the best you will not get any better than that, you have gotten to the very top of the racing world and there is no higher mark.
To put into perspective how big this seat is, in 2019, Ducati turned over a staggering €716 million Euros and Miller is on one of their top 2 seats the official riders have a huge job of promoting the brand, the saying goes “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and it’s a fact, therefore the limelight is on him to perform.
Miller has had to come from the very bottom to the top, his family selling their possessions and getting Miller on a plane over to Europe to help him achieve his racing dream, firstly racing in the German IDM 125cc championship he quickly made his way through the ranks into the Moto3 class finishing as the runner up in 2014 on the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team which is as factory as a Moto3 team gets, it is their officially unofficial factory Moto3 team. At the end of 2014, Miller made an unbelievable move to MotoGP from the Moto3 class, bypassing Moto2 where he had a deal with the Marc VDS team pre-signed, signing for Honda in MotoGP being slotted into the LCR Honda team with Cal Crutchlow.
Miller riding for the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 Team
He was quick to make an impression, but he had to work for it putting on the required kilograms of muscle required to race a 300hp MotoGP bike at any sort of level, being strict with his diet and training routine working and training 7 days a week to make sure he stays in MotoGP as long as he possibly could. He had a 3 year deal with Honda, however if his results were not there Honda have the money to end said contract. Racing is 30% actually racing and 70% training and preparing to race, you could be the fastest rider to ever exist, but if your diet consists of Pizza and sugary drinks, and your training routine is playing MotoGP 20 on your Playstation, you won’t make it as a MotoGP athlete these days.
Gone are the days of riders having a cigarette and a sip of whisky on the grid, MotoGP is now considered an elite sport and riders must be elite because there is always a rider looking to take their seat, one bad season and you are done as Jorge Lorenzo found out. Therefore, Miller had to work incredibly hard over winter to ensure he was MotoGP race-ready.
Riding for Honda was a great experience for the Aussie Jackass, he was able to gain experience in MotoGP but was riding second-best equipment, the bike supplied to him at LCR Honda was in the open class which was not as good as its RC213V counterpart, then in the Estrella Galicia team, the bike still was not up to scratch, yet despite this, Miller was still able to take an outstanding victory in Assen 2016.
Miller en route to his first MotoGP victory in Assen 2016
At the end of his Honda contract, Miller moved to Ducati, and we all know how good an Aussie is on a Ducati, looking at you Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner – it was a match made in heaven, Miller fitted into the team like a glove, he was a hit and this showed on track, bettering his 2015, 2016 and 2017 points tallies in his first season on the Ducati, this warranted Ducati to give him better equipment, matching that of the factory team, lacking some parts of course.
His Pramac Ducati run showed a lot of promise, he took 9 podiums in his three seasons on the Pramac bike with his best season so far coming in 2020, he is becoming more and more consistent every season, unnoticed by many, in 2019 he only finished outside of the top 10 once in Thailand with a P14 finish, aside from this he was in the top 10 for every race he finished, then in 2020 his worst result all year was P9, taking his best Ducati result of P2 three times, proving to Ducati that they chose the best man to replace Danilo Petrucci in the official team.
We can’t forget his last lap scrap with Franco Morbidelli either at Valencia, Miller timed the race to perfection, maturely thinking about the session and mulling over the overtake for a number of laps, looking for Morbidelli’s weakness and looking to strike for the win with a game plan saying, “I had a mega plan in my head that I was going to sail past him [Morbidelli] on the front straight with one lap to go and bobs your uncle, but that lasted until I started tipping into T1 and couldn’t get the thing stopped, then we were side by side into T2.”
The last lap was a nailbiter with Morbidelli epically stopping Miller from taking his first Ducati win by a mere 0.093, he got his own back a week later though in Portimao when Miller overtook Franco and finished ahead of him in P2 behind Miguel Oliveira who destroyed the entire field.
In 2021 in the official red colours, Miller can be expected to step up a whole new level the official team has some perks which the satellite Pramac team does not, for example, Miller can make the bike ‘his’ as previously he was riding a bike developed by Michele Pirro, Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso with Miller aiding in the development, he now will work directly with test rider Michele Pirro and the Ducati Corse team to mould the bike around his strengths and weaknesses, giving him the best opportunity to win the title this is not forgetting the factory budget which comes with a factory ride, the funds in the Research and Development department will be a lot more accessible and what Miller wants, he will get as a factory rider, especially as he is proven himself in their junior team.
The official team has added pressure of course, but what factory team doesn’t? The Aussie will have to learn to manage this, but at only 25 years old and an already impressive CV behind him, the only way is up from now, he already has Ducati onside and they have rewarded him with their biggest prize they can offer, now it’s time for Miller to pay Ducati back.
Featured images – www.motogp.com