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High time for Jack Miller | MOTOGP | SPORT

Miller fast and fit and ready to fight for podiums

Jack Miller has his eye on a full factory ride with Ducati next year, after a strong run of finishes and a best-in-the-dry fourth place at the last race At Le Mans.

Miller is up against his Alma Pramac Ducati team-mate Danilo Petrucci, with one of them tipped to take over the factory bike vacated next year by Lorenzo.

Both are strong candidates, but the outcome will not make too much difference to Miller, who has been promised the latest factory GP19 whichever team he is with.

It affects the colour of his leathers and the size of his fee, with Miller saying: “Two years ago I never thought I’d be in this position.”

He had matured from his crash-happy past, he thought – a notion backed by strong results. Currently he lies sixth overall, one place behind Petrucci, after claiming top ten finishes in the last eight races, topped by fourth at Le Mans a fortnight ago, his best ever in the dry.

“I don’t think I’ve every finished eight races in a row before,” he said.

“There’s a lot more stress in a factory team, but it would be a dream come true,” he said. His management was in talks with Ducati, but “we are playing the waiting game.”

Unfazed by missing his first Pramac Ducati podium by less than a second, Aussie Jack Miller says his ambitions have been boosted by a lesson from race-craft master Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).

Miller was fourth by just 0.9s to Rossi’s third-place podium place after a late-race contest in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

On a Desmosedici GP17, Miller raised his Ducati stocks by finishing four seconds ahead of high-paid factory star Jorge Lorenzo in a fading sixth place on the latest GP18. And Miller’s fast and controlled performance saw him finish just six seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).

“I’d really like to be fighting with those guys for the victory but I am not quite ready for the podium yet, but learning more every time,” Miller said. “The carrot was there, and I was chasing it hard, to be able to see Marc and Valentino at end was really nice.

“In the races coming up I hope to fight for podium.”

With a handful of laps remaining in the 27-lapper, Miller was revved up for an attack on Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha YZF-M1 for the final podium spot.

“I got close to him a few times and it’s the first time in my career I wished a race to be longer,” Miller said. “I saw my board with eight laps to go and I thought, f**k I’m catching him and just focussed on closing him down. Then I looked up and it was the last lap and I thought, ‘you are kidding!’

“I rode a pretty flawless race, only running wide onto the back straight a couple of times. Valentino did the same but the problem was I wasn’t right on him at those moments to take advantage of that – that pissed me off more than anything.

“Not an easy day but a good learning day, a lot of experience, I had to work hard with Rossi controlling the gap plus I was down on top speed.”

Miller, French MotoGP race 2018

Money Talks

Jack Miller’s teammate Danilo Petrucci exposed why both of them – apart from their talent – are on the reserve list for Lorenzo’s factory seat if the Spaniard departs for Suzuki, as rumours suggest.

Lorenzo, French MotoGP 2018

Ducati says a “viable financial solution” must be reached for a Lorenzo extension.

“It is not a joke – our salaries are less,” Petrucci said. “It seems the bike does not 100 per cent fit Jorge, but I must wait for Ducati’s decision, they know me well. My target is the factory team but I have other chances.”

Petrucci, French MotoGP 2018

Petrucci’s Ducati option is only for the factory team, otherwise he will pursue a deal with Aprilia to join Aleix Espargaro. Ducati has confirmed factory-spec GP19 machinery for Miller next year and will place him either in the Pramac squad alongside rookie Pecco Bagnaia or in the factory squad alongside recently re-signed Andrea Dovizioso.