Present and future, both are playing on Jack Miller's mind. After his crash ten days ago at Mugello, the Australian is hungry for a comeback at the Spanish track. The Pramac rider doesn't want to let anyone down at a track where Ducati has won the last two editions.
“The last round of Mugello was a real shame – recalls Jack – unfortunately I crashed while fighting Rins, I tried to take the inside but once I came off the brake the tyre slid and I went down. A pity, but we need to look ahead”.
To Barcelona in fact, where Ducati has dominated in recent years.
“Marc has always been fast here too, and I expect the Yamahas to be competitive. The Ducati can count on its top speed, but the Honda has become more competitive in this regard too”.
And then there's Suzuki...
“At Mugello I found myself battling Rins and was quite pleased to be in that front group. The Suzuki seems to have improved a lot in terms of tyre management and has shown to be competitive”.
This season Jack is riding the GP19, just like Dovi and Petrucci. But there is a still a gap between him and the factory bikes.
“I have to say that my GP19 and those of Dovi and Petrux are quite similar. Last year, our Ducatis were a little different to the factory bikes. Our level is now closer to theirs though. I haven't had to change my riding style for the GP19, despite some different components. I'll have some new things at Barcelona and am keen to see what my feeling is”.
At just 24 years of age, Jack Miller has big dreams for the future.
“My aim is to be number one. I personally think I've finished my apprenticeship and now need a factory bike to be able to fight against the best. The level has gone up in MotoGP and you have to keep up. Right now, my bike is competitive, but there are some differences to the factory bikes, like geometry for example, as I had to make some changes at Jerez”.
Jack's mind is firmly on the Barcelona round.
“I need to work to improve and be competitive right from first practice. The aim is to get straight into Q2. In the last races I've struggled to do that. Then I need to focus on race pace. If we look at Marc for example, he focuses a lot on pace to understand his race potential. You might lose a session in making all the evaluations, but his method is definitely interesting”.
And then there's the market. The Australian's contract is up at the end of this year.
“I think Ducati will decide what to do either this or next weekend. The situation isn't clear yet. I'm happy where I am of course, as Ducati is a great manufacturer and being on this team gives me extra motivation. But I'm also not prepared to accept certain 'demotions' after two years with Pramac”
Miller is aiming for the factory team.
“There are not a lot of alternatives right now. I think I've improved and deserve a move to the factory team. So, I believe that they will understand my situation in Ducati. I was able to reach the podium with this bike at Austin, proving my competitiveness. I think being on a factory team is a great opportunity”.
As Jack says, there don't appear to be any real alternatives right now.
“The contracts of the top riders expire in 2020. There's Suzuki, and then Yamaha with Vinales and I'd put a question mark over Lorenzo too. We'll see what happens”
Audio recorded by Matteo Aglio