Jack Miller Interview
25-year-old Jack Miller was officially confirmed this week as signing to the full factory Ducati MotoGP Team in season 2021. We caught up with him today for a chat about that development, and many other things…
How much do you think your working life is going to change next year with moving to the factory team. Just how much more support will you have, and how much larger do you think your workload might be over the course of a race week now you will be at the top echelon of Ducati’s racing activities around the world? That is some responsibility..
“Yeah definitely, I mean there is a lot more pressure no doubt that comes with the factory team, but you know I think we are fortunate enough now they they have got such great people there these days working with the company to help guide the direction let’s say, and that might also help take some of those pressures off the rider in regards to the workload, especially with the sponsors and whatnot. I think the biggest thing is to try, well the main focus on me for the moment is just trying to get back to racing the 2020 season at the moment with the Pramac Team, you know I am fortunate enough to have signed this deal but still have unfinished business with Pramac Ducati so to try and get that done, then once 2021 rolls around, the testing beforehand etc. comes up will focus on that.”
And why do you think they chose you? Do you think that the fond memories that so much of the senior management have from working towards great success with straight shooters like Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner lean them towards working with Aussies?
“For sure, that helps I think. But I have been riding for Ducati now for two years, I think my results more than anything help to justify why they chose me, but for sure they all love Australians there is no doubt about that, but I think the results I put in, especially the second half of last year definitely helped secure me the job.”
Obviously you are stoked with the new contract, your family, I bet they are even more overwhelmed and excited for you, and proud that Ducati have put so much faith in you.
“Definitely it is still kinda weird, sat here at home in Australia. Kind of weird to be thinking about 2021, as we haven’t even started the 2020 season yet and I am signed up and thinking about the 2021 season. But it’s been unreal to be here with the family to have this dream come true. I definitely wouldn’t be here without them, they backed me through thick and thin, it is not only me that has got the contract it is all of us so it is pretty cool.”
Who do you think your team-mate will be, and do you have a preference as to who that would be?
“Not really, I mean I get along with everybody I think. But the best team-mate for me would perhaps be Dovi, he is such a great rider and somebody I feel I could learn off, but I also feel like perhaps help I could also help push him along too. But we will just have to wait and see what Ducati management have planned and what Dovi wants to do and I am sure they will make the right decision.”
So Jack, you getting yourself a Ducati or two to play with outside of the MotoGP bikes…?
“Already got one in Europe a V4, but I was actually meant to get Diavel for the street already, the team were going to bring it down on their way through to Jerez, but I think it is sat there in the team workshop as we haven’t got there yet, so will have to wait.”
I understand that the KTM MotoGP Team had shown an interest in signing you in recent years, the Austrian brand was good to you in your earlier years and it must have been tempting to join KTM again, despite the Ducati being a much stronger package, what were the deciding factors in the decision to stick with Ducati, I guess there is quite a sense of loyalty now to Ducati with the faith and support they have put behind you during your time with Pramac?
“Definitely, for sure the loyalty is there, but I want the results. And it was the same when I went with KTM in Moto3 back in the day, I wasn’t looking for money but for decent results, I wanted to ride well and have a good package underneath me. I could have signed with many other teams in Moto3 when I went to KTM but I decided on them because Aki (Ajo) ran such a great team and I really wanted to ride for that team. And it is the same you know, I took a massive pay-cut to go with Ducati back when I did, but I saw a future there and I am continuing on that path.”
Who would you like to see fill your seat at Pramac Ducati?
“Hard one to say… A lot of people probably don’t know Marcel too well, Marcel Schrotter, but I would like to see him in there, we need another German in MotoGP and I think he has got talent. He is sort of one of those guys that is stuck in Moto2 at the minute which you can do you know, that class is a tough one, if you get stuck in there for too long it is hard to kind of get out. I would like to see him but it doesn’t really bother me to be honest.”
Following things on socials it seems as though quite a few of your fellow MotoGP riders have been more than a little bit jealous about you being able to get out on a dirt bike over these past couple of months. Cal was recently quoted as saying you’ve been the only racer on a bike during isolation so you should be miles ahead of everyone else. Seriously though, do you think the dirt squirters have helped you keep in some sort of practice for racing and keep your eye in?
“It has been nice being back here and I am very fortunate to have the set up I have got here on the farm, being able to ride pretty much every day, it is the best time of year to be riding up here (Townsville) it is not too hot and I have been making the most of it while I am here. I don’t generally get to be home here at this time of the year, haven’t been for ten years so it has been good catching up.”
Ducati don’t make dirt bikes, so I believe you just buy yours at your local motorcycle dealership like anyone else?
“Yep, exactly, I just go down there (Future Sport Motorcycles), they give me a little bit of a deal but definitely nothing too special. But it does help the local shop and it makes it a lot easier for me to as I don’t have to be pleasing anybody or owing anybody anything and can just buy what ever I want and don’t have to rep it as such.”
Been building up a couple of two-stroke project bikes too haven’t you?
“I have got a few there now, a 2000 model KX125, 2008 the last one, KX125, 2002 KX500 done. They are all done. An RM125 from 2007 that’s done.. What else is there. I bought a 2020 KTM 250 two-stroke which is my new favourite thing to ride at this point in time. Then I bought a CR500 from 1997, from Facebook got a good deal on some lady was selling it for cash really close by so couldn’t pass that one up as they are starting to go through the roof, so that is the next project on the chopping block you could say.”
Which of your dirt bikes has given you the biggest crash in the last few months…?
“If anyone knows me I am always crashing so it is hard to put it down to one…(laughs)”
Who in your isolation crew has had the funniest stack?
“Probably Billy, young Billy Van Eerde, he had a good one, hit a false neutral before a jump and went over the bars and I think he got smacked in the chest so that was pretty decent.”
In the last 2 years we have seen such a significant improvement in your consistency and performance. What do you attribute that to?
“More time than anything, I had the consistency in Moto3, step by step got it, and I think the same thing in MotoGP. It’s taken an extra couple of years than what it did in Moto3 as you can imagine being in the premier class. Step by step just getting closer and closer. And it is great to come in to a season now not only hoping to get a couple of podiums but expecting that and more is kind of cool.”
When you are back in Oz and you go to a Mexican restaurant with family or friends, do you use your Spanish style accent when ordering?
“I actually do find myself, even if I go, you know just dealing with so many foreign people all the time, I go into a Chinese or what ever and I am talking real slow and putting that accent on and my mates are like ‘talk fucking normal’.. I can’t help it (laughs).”
I was actually going to start out the interview by asking which language we were going to use so I could set up google translate (Jack cracks up). Seriously though, have you picked up how to speak another language during your now almost decade living and racing in Europe?
“I have got a little Spanish, enough to get by, don’t be asking me to write you a report in Spanish, I can not write it but I can speak it a little bit and read it, but the rest of it is pretty difficult, and I think I sound even more retarded in their language.”
You have been living in Andorra for quite some time now. And also putting up your young countryman Billy Van Eerde and looking after him quite a bit during his European ventures, giving him plenty of support and taking him training with you etc. So pleasing to see you taking him under your wing as that support would be so invaluable to him, even from just a mental aspect with friendly faces while being so far away from home. You knock about a fair bit with Josh Hook over there too don’t you? So a good little Aussie crew to hang with in Andorra, tell us a bit about that lifestyle and the place? I know some other Aussies like Shane Stratton and his family also call Andorra home these days.
“Yeah they are up there, Shane and Di, they are great. Broc was up there before, Broc Parkes, and Garry McCoy was probably one of the first of the Aussies up there. My place is sort of like a sanctuary, like a house of misfits sort of thing… Myself and could be anyone in any week but there is but generally it is like Australian embassy of Andorra. Billy, Hooky, Parkesy and sometimes we end up with people on the floor. We have got a great crew of people up there and like you say it just makes it so much easier to go through the year when you have good mates to hang out with, especially Australians with the same sense of humour and in some ways it makes everything a lot easier.”
Riding that Ducati, I saw some onboard recently that focussed on your right hand while testing, and the inputs look so smooth and small, and the visual representation might be wrong, but it seems as though there is so little finger pressure applied to those brakes to have the thing haul up, is that impression correct?
“No, we are squeezing them, really squeezing them, no cameras ever really show it but the thing is near on popping blood vessels out of your eyeballs, you can squeeze it so hard, that said though the thing is with the Michelins is that you do have to be more gentle than you could be on the Bridgestones, with that front tyre being absolutely unreal.”
And the throttle, how much horsepower we talking about these days, even with the electronics, how much of the game is still really down to that right hand control, and just how much of a lap is the real tyre actually spinning?
“Over 300 horsepower now, well over 300 now. With the electronics and that we have now it is not crazy but it still you know…you can have all the electronic there in the world but you have still got to be as smooth as possible. Again coming back to this thing with the Michelins even with the electronics, once you create the spin it does not recover, there is not some magic angle where it hooks up, if you start to spin with the Michelin it will carry on spinning pretty much halfway down the straight, if not more…So the biggest thing is trying not to create that spin, too much over-spin I should say on the exit of the corner, that is probably the biggest thing. A lot of people say you know you have got traction control and this that and the other, but yeah we have traction control but we also have 300 horsepower… Back in the day they had 150 so we are at double the horsepower that they had so it does help to have that little bit of a hand.”
What you can tell us about the recent mechanical devices fitted to the Ducati that caused a stir, first the hole-shot device, and now another system that lowers the bike on acceleration.
“I have had that on for quite a while, it just another thing Ducati has developed, and then everyone else will copy like everything else. The big three, Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda they all go on about being the premier bike builders and whatnot but they keep copying the Italians who are working out of a comparatively tiny factory.”
It must be hard to also have enough zen space left in your brain to operate that anti squat as the same time as putting up with the g-forces, throttle inputs and body positioning. I guess there is no real way to train yourself for that other than seat time on the MotoGP bike, or is there?
“Exactly. Seat time makes the biggest difference. Thailand last year you know what happened there on the grid, It felt as though I was flying Apollo 14 and I managed to mess it up but I definitely only did that once.”
You haven’t had a dip in the Virtual MotoGP competition as yet?
“No it doesn’t interest me, plus my internet up here is that woeful, we only came off dial-up a few years ago.”
When do you fly back to Europe and when do you expect to be back on the Desmosedici?
“If it is all going to happen then will probably end up going back sort of mid-June, do quarantine and have a couple of weeks there to train and then be ready to Jerez as that is what they are currently talking, do two weeks there and they are talking about locking us in for two weeks at the same track so we stay there on track for the whole time from mid-July.”
Following on from my recent Twisted ASBK Interview series that I have done with our local Superbike guys and earlier this week with BSB rider Josh Brookes, let’s go through the same sort of twisted questions but instead with the angle on MotoGP for a bit of fun?
Who is the dirtiest rider you least trust when racing against?
“Probably have to say Morbidelli, you just never really know which way he is going with him, so yeah Morbidelli.”
Who would you most like to punch in the MotoGP paddock?
“Awww…. That is a hard one… Definitely used to be the race direction guys back in the Moto3 days a few time that’s for sure.”
Who would you least like to be punched by in the MotoGP paddock?
“Probably Danilo (Petrucci).”
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which of the MotoGP riders would you choose to be stuck with?
“Probably Cal. At least we could have some banter.”
Who is the king of swiping right during MotoGP race weekends?
Who is the biggest princess in the MotoGP paddock?
“Fabio has got to be winning on that score at the minute, he loves a selfie…honestly, surely enough is enough, how many pictures can you take of yourself…”
Who has the most fitting nickname in the paddock?
“Dunno. That is a hard one. Nobody really uses nicknames any more do they… Well of course there is The Doctor, but that doesn’t really suit him anyway I think, not now.”
What is the worst track MotoGP visits?
“Hard one. I love the German GP itself, it is great, but the Sachsenring is probably the worst ones for our MotoGP bikes as it is so small. Especially nowadays with these bikes, the whole time you are on partial throttle you never really get to open the thing up at all.”
Which corner on the calendar is your favourite?
“Turn three, Phillip Island. Stoner Corner, it’s unreal.”
Which corner would you liked to see nuked from orbit?
“Turn one at Le Mans.”
If you could overtake one rider, on one corner, who would it be, and where, and how?
“Marc Marquez at the last corner in Jerez. Just to sort of keep the tradition going.”
Which animal would you most liken yourself to?
“Bull in a china shop.”
You need to borrow tools. Who would you ask first? Who would you never ask?
“Probably ask Dovi first, as he would be organised and have it. Would not ask Cal, I would know I would never hear the end of it.”
If you weren’t racing, what would you be in jail for?
“Dunno. Maybe drunk and Disorderly.“
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
“Woops. A story by Jack.”
How would you describe yourself in three words?
“I would like to think Funny…. Charismatic. Energetic.”
If you won a few million dollars on Lotto what would be the first thing you would buy?
“Bitumen track at my house.”
If you could keep one of your race bikes from throughout your career which one would it be? And why?
“I would definitely love to have the Honda I won Assen on, simply because nobody has Honda MotoGP bikes so that would be real important.”
What is your plan for life after racing…?
“Try not to go broke.”