Jack Miller will be somewhat of an underdog at The Bend
The widely rumoured news that Jack Miller would race the finale of the 2021 Australian Superbike Championship at The Bend has now been officially confirmed as of midday today.
With two Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix cancelled over recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racing fans will enjoy the opportunity to be able to see and cheer their Australian MotoGP star on home soil.
Jack’s entry has been in for a while, but was on hold until the successful and injury free completion of his MotoGP World Championship duties for the season, thus we didn’t want to jump the gun, so to speak, and make the news public, only to then potentially disappoint people if it didn’t go ahead after they had spent money and made commitments to attend. But now it’s official, and we can fill you in a little more on what is going down.
So is Jack smuggling a one-off special Panigale V4 R full of unobtanium internals in the storage hold of the plane he is flying back to Australia in?
Well no he is not, in fact his race machine will not be quite up to the full specification of the DesmoSport Ducati and Boost Mobile Ducati machines currently being raced in ASBK by the likes of Oli Bayliss, Mike Jones and Wayne Maxwell.
That is primarily due to the fact that Jack is restricted from using the full race kit ECU set-ups currently fitted to the other Ducatis being raced in ASBK. That restriction stems from the rules set in place, by Dorna, that prevent MotoGP riders testing in the off-season on Superbikes fitted with that level of telemetry.
In many other Superbike series around the world their race bikes would be modified in many other ways that would also prevent any MotoGP rider from legally being able to ride them at all, let alone race them. But luckily, ECU aside, our ASBK Superbikes are otherwise so standard that Miller can race here without breaking the MotoGP testing rules that only allow competitors to ride production bikes with minimal changes. And that, essentially, is what an Australian Superbike is. Our Superbikes are more standard than most Superstock categories around the world, let alone a British Superbike or World Superbike.
So who is supplying Jack this free ASBK spec’ Ducati Panigale V4 R to race at The Bend?
Jack bought it himself, with his own money.
Jack recently purchased a spare bike from DesmoSport Ducati through Ben Henry. A spare bike from the ASBK squad with a fresh engine and taken to Darwin as a spare but never raced. Jack himself hasn’t even seen it yet, let alone thrown a leg over it.
While many people in the world of racing would simply not believe that Jack buys his own bikes, we can tell you that is exactly what he does.
Jack loves his dirtbikes and the likes of KTM would no doubt supply him free, or at least loan him for free, as many dirtbikes as he likes. But no, Jack buys them off the floor at sticker price from his local KTM dealer in Townsville.
Sounds like a bit of a legend of a bloke doesn’t he?
Well actually it gets better than that.
You see Jack helps just about every Aussie kid that finds themselves in Europe, in some way or another. His residence in Andorra is known as the Australian embassy. Rarely a week goes by without a bunch of young Aussies hanging out there and training with Jack, or even living there with him in a spare room long term, or on a makeshift bed in his basement.
And no, I am not Jack’s PR spin doctor, and it is even more credit to him that a lot of what I just wrote is not widely known. Jack does it for no other reason than helping out some Aussie kids just because he can.
In the same vein, what possible benefits are there in it for Jack Miller, personally, to race at The Bend?
Overwhelmingly the benefits go to the event itself over and above any enjoyment or satisfaction Jack will derive from racing at an event where, as the Factory MotoGP star, he has a huge target on his back. All this with no track time under his belt at the South Australian circuit, on a bike he hasn’t even ridden yet and fitted with an electronics set-up lesser than what his competitors are allowed to use.
In my mind, Jack goes into this event as somewhat of an underdog. New bike, no track time or track knowledge, the Michelin tyres he will race here on are not what he is accustomed to in MotoGP, but he will have ridden primarily stock practice bikes in Europe shod with the same tyres we use here.
But say Jack does win, or bags good points for podiums at The Bend, his presence could end up impacting the outcome of the Australian Superbike Championship. Still, championship leader Wayne Maxwell welcomes the competition and level of attention that Jack’s presence will bring to ASBK, as does the entire Australian Superbike organisation and riders.
Miller’s presence will help swell the crowd and excitement around the ASBK event to a level not seen for many years.
Jack is not the only international that will be at The Bend though. Factory Honda World Endurance racer and 2017-18 FIM EWC Champion Josh Hook will line-up on a Penrite Honda. Hooky is a part of that whole Aussies in Andorra set-up they have going over there as is Billy van Eerde, who will also race at The Bend in the Supersport event. It is almost like Andorra versus Australia….
“I am really excited to be able to have this opportunity and race the final round of Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). I would love to say a massive thank you to the guys at Ducati for allowing me this opportunity amidst our busy testing schedule. To go and race in front of the Australian fans is a massive privilege and honour. Thank you the team at ASBK and Motorcycling Australia for their support at such short notice. I am also thankful to Ben Henry from DesmoSport Ducati for his help in the organisation. As you can imagine it has not been easy to try and organise everthing from the other side of the world at such short notice, having Ben and Matty Macalpine there to help me organise most things, has been very easy. I am very excited to be able to race in front of the Australian fans at least one time this year, it is going to be fantastic. I look forward to seeing everyone there!”
Motorcycling Australia CEO, Peter Doyle, said he was ecstatic to have Jack Miller joining the Grand Finale of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul.
“Having Australian MotoGP sensation Jack Miller compete in the ASBK is further testament to the tough and highly competitive nature of our ASBK Championship which is one of the best national superbike championships in the world,” Mr Doyle said.
“Australian race fans have been starved of on track MotoGP action here for two years due to COVID, but to now have their Aussie hero in Jack Miller come home and race ASBK, we are sure fans will flock to the ASBK Grand Finale at The Bend in South Australia.”
As always, MCNews.com.au will be on the scene to bring you the latest news and images throughout the event, in what will be our 22nd year reporting directly from Australian Superbike Championship rounds. Roll on the first weekend in December!
Race fans can grab their tickets for the ASBK Grand Finale which are on sale now through Ticketek. More spectator information can also be found at www.thebend.com.au
Following the Grand Finale on Sunday, December 5, a family friendly and BBQ style ASBK presentation event will be held to celebrate and crown the 2021 ASBK Champions.
The ASBK Grand Finale will operate under a COVIDSafe Plan in accordance with SA Government regulations, and all interstate travellers, volunteers and race fans will be required to be double vaccinated for entry into South Australia. All travellers coming to South Australia must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration, irrespective of where they are travelling from.
For those fans who are unable to be trackside, you can catch all the fantastic action through ASBK TV partners SBS, FOXSPORTS Australia, Sky Sport NZ and via ASBK TV Live Stream.
ASBK Superbike Championship Points Standings