MILLER READY TO TAKE BIG GAMBLE
EFFECTIVELY, Jack Miller is betting on himself.
Signing a one- year deal to be the number one Pramac Ducati rider on a factory- spec bike for the first time in his career may look risky. But it shows the self- belief the Townsville MotoGP ace possesses that he will take advantage of the biggest year of his career.
Jorge Lorenzo’s Ducati departure, and Danilo Petrucci’s promotion to the factory team, has opened the door for the 23- year- old to make his mark in 2019, his fifth year in MotoGP.
Miller has had to bide his time on older bikes and “riding the wheels off it” just to compete, which he rates the ideal preparation for the next step.
Currently 12th in the MotoGP standings, he believes he can compete immediately on a newer bike and has backed his ability by signing a short term deal.
Miller is back home where he is busy improving his training facilities at his family’s Kelso property before he next races in Japan ( October 21) and Phillip Island the following week.
“It ( 2019) is a big year for me. This year’s already been a big one with the change in manufacturer ( from Honda) but I think we’ve proved ourselves, being on a year- old bike and still beating the latest and greatest bikes in a handful of races,” Miller said. “Riding on older equipment is the best way to learn because you really have to push it to its limits. You’re underpowered so you have to ride the wheels off it, and you appreciate it when you get on the latest model.”
Miller knows an upgrade in equipment comes with an increase in expectation. It doesn’t faze him, and he is confident he can improve his market value with strong results.
“I took the gamble and decided to sign a one- year contract with Ducati so my options are open halfway through next year when deals are negotiated, just because I believe it will be a good year for us,” Miller said.
“We’re just going to have to knuckle down and do the work.
“The way I’ve done it, I’m saying I believe we can run with the best out there. With the right machinery next year and the right team around me, which I believe we have, I feel we can do well and secure an even better contract.”
Miller ( 74 points) has set his sights on breaking the 100- point barrier for the first time in his career with four rounds remaining.
He finished 10th in the recent Thailand Grand Prix, and believes his team is back on track after some sluggish mid- season results. Miller claimed his first career MotoGP pole at Argentina in April, and is working toward putting himself in a position to add to his maiden victory at the Netherlands in 2016.
“At Thailand we were thereabouts but every time you get in the straight you fall behind, and on the corners you have to put extra pressure on your tyres and brakes,” Miller said.
“Over one or two laps it’s OK, but in a 26- lap race it’s impossible to do.”
Miller is hot property in Europe, MotoGP’s biggest market. When he ventures home, he loves nothing more than hanging out with mates and enjoying a ‘ normal’ life.
However his latest visit is far from a holiday, as he works on transforming his training facilities to the point where he hopes he can base himself at home during the European winter.
“Step by step we’ll build up what we need here for training so when it’s cold in Europe, I can train here instead of going to America,” Miller said.
“I’ve got a track at the back and the idea is to get a small road bike track going so I can do asphalt training.
“We’ve been cycling each morning on The Strand and up Castle Hill, a 55km round trip.”
Miller and MotoGP 2 rider Marcel Schrotter will be the main attractions at this weekend’s Hayden Pittman Memorial at Woodstock Motocross Track.
RIDING ON OLDER EQUIPMENT IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN BECAUSE YOU REALLY HAVE TO PUSH IT TO ITS LIMITS JACK MILLER
CONFIDENCE: Townsville MotoGP rider Jack Miller at his Kelso home yesterday ahead of tonight’s Hayden Pittman Memorial at Woodstock. ( Insert top) Miller with his Pramac Racing team after qualifying on pole position at the Argentina GP and ( bottom) signing autographs at the Austria GP.
Miller during practice at the French Moto GP in Le Mans.