Ducati has always had a soft spot for Australians, and vice versa. Casey Stoner and Troy Bayliss are still two Ducati symbols, and now Jack Miller has taken on the legacy. After three years of “apprenticeship” on the Pramac team, the time has come for him to wear the colors of the official team and try to repeat what his two predecessors did.
“I grew up watching Troy and Casey. They were two idols to me,” he said. “All things considered, it’s strange that many Australians have raced with Ducati, considering there aren’t many riders there. But it’s not what they did that put pressure on me. I did it myself. I’ll do the best Jack Miller can do, and then we’ll see what happens.”
When you’re on an official team, it’s almost self-evident to ask what the ultimate goal is.
“I was close to winning a race last year, so my first goal is to do it,” Jack replied. “Logically, I want to fight for the title, so I won’t be stupid. Then we’ll see what happens.”
Miller and Ducati know each other well, and this will be the starting point.
“Pupulin, my telemetrist, and a mechanic will come with me. The biggest difference is that there will be more people working with me. It won’t change much. I spent three years in the garage next to them, playing music and annoying them. They know me and know what I want,” he said jokingly. “But it’s nice to keep working with the people you’ve built a relationship with. Both they and I are motivated to achieve the same goal. I think it’s a great way to work with young people.”
Miller has matured over the past three years.
“It was Ducati that gave me the tools to do it,” he pointed out. “It wasn’t easy. I’ve always had annual contracts, but you have to show that you deserve the job, and that helped me mature. I’m also not a kid anymore.”
So it’s time to take that last step forward to fight for something really important.
“There’s a long list of things to do, but I’m not one of those who say what needs to be done,” the Australian rider continued. “I’ve been working with Ducati engineers for three years. They know what I want and need, and we’ll continue that development. For my part, I worked on my body and mind to improve myself in the winter. During the first few years, I was fast, but I wasn’t constant. I have to go back to being as fast as when I was in the Moto3. Last year, I started working on it. At first, I had some problems with the new tire, but then I was able to adapt.”
He also had a leg problem that forced him to get surgery when he returned to Australia.
“I got an infection, went to the hospital, and they cleaned everything up,” he dsaid teasingly. “But I’m fine now. I have no problem, even on the motocross bike. I did another nineteen days of quarantine. During that period, I spoke with Marquez. I wrote to him: ‘We’re in the same boat.’ But I don’t know how he’s doing. We no longer spoke. I just hope to see him back on track soon. He misses the whole championship.”
He’ll certainly find Joan Mir, the current world champion, on the track. But, according to Jack, he won’t be his most formidable rival.
“Nobody expected him to win the title last year. He did a great job,” he admitted. “But, seeing the last part of last year, my biggest rival will be Franco Morbidelli. Although there’s some doubt, because he won’t have an updated bike, and I think that’s really strange. However, I don’t exclude riders like Quartararo and Vinales and many others. There are many competitive riders."
Before wearing the new colors in Qatar, in a month’s time, Jack will be in Jerez on the Panigale V4, Thursday and Friday, with the other Ducati riders.
“It’s difficult to train for the MotoGP because there’s nothing similar, but riding a bike as fast as the Panigale helps. Yet, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the MotoGP. Every time you get back on it after the winter, it’s a shock,” he concluded.