Jack Miller from outside of Townsville is to switch from Honda – who plucked him straight out of Moto3 three seasons back – to join the Pramac Ducati team.
On the eve of the Austrian GP the news broke officially.
The decision had been dragging out over the summer, as Jack weighed the options: to stay with Honda and the Marc VDS team, but on the same 2017 machine, or to take the plunge with Ducati.
He actually signed the deal last Sunday evening after the Brno race, “at about 6pm. I waited until I’d got out of my leathers,” he grinned, in Austria.
“I’m pretty happy to get that announcement out of the way,” he said, speaking after the first day of practice in Austria. “It’s been negotiations, negotiations for the last … summer break and everything. It’s been a bit of a headache, so it’s nice to get it off my chest, to sign the contract and get back to focusing on the job in hand.”
It was the spirit of adventure that spurred the change. “It’s another risk, but my whole career has been risk. I moved from Australia when I was 14 years old. Risk after risk. It’s the name of the game.”
Also the lure of the Italian stallion. Like Honda, it will also be a 2017 bike. But a different 2017 bike.
“The deal from Honda was 2017 material, with Marc VDS. The team wasn’t a problem for me, it was more the material side of things. The negotiations with Honda started to drag on and drag on, and instead of the headache I just decided maybe a change could help.
“I’ve been with Honda for three years now, and it’s always nice to try something new. It’s the first time I’ve been in a contract for more than a year. Marc VDS is the first time I’ve been in a team for more than a year. It’s been nice, but I think change is good.
“I’m looking forward to next year. It’s a pretty cool project we’ve got on the go over there … but of course I want to try and finish this year out strong. We’ve got a lot of things we need to do here in the box. My goal all along was to be in the top ten in the championship.”
Jack currently lies 12th. “Tenth is a long shot now – but anything can happen. So my main goal is to keep pulling in points, week after week.”
For next year, it’ll all be new again.
“I like the look of that GP17. They made a lot of changes for this year, so it’ll be interesting to see what they change for next year.
“I understand the Honda, and they’re looking for direction and working hard … but I like the look of that Ducati bike, and I think it will suit my style – braking late, picking the bike up, getting it out of the corner.
“But you never know until you find out.
“A lot of people have gone there and tried, and haven’t ridden it the way that they expected. I don’t want to be another one of those. So it’s hard to say I’m going with high expectations. I want to go with a clear mind and go and learn some more.”
Jack also sees Pramac Ducati’s interest as a vindication of Honda’s bold move, taking him straight from Moto3 at the end of 2014.
“To sign another factory contract after three years … you can’t say it was a mistake. A lot of people did bad-mouth me then, but I think it goes to show we proved a lot of people wrong.”
By Michael Scott