Thriller Miller. How Much Longer at Ducati?

Brian J. Nelson

Jack Miller crashed out of the Portugal Grand Prix on Sunday, leaving his hopes of more years on the factory Ducati in greater doubt. Miller took a brazen lunge into the downhill first corner on Suzuki’s Joan Mir. The lunge didn’t pay off as Miller couldn’t stop the bike and crashed into Mir, ending both of their races.

The crash on Sunday was yet another disappointing showing for Miller. It was his second crash of the year, with only one podium to date. To date, with nearly two years at the factory Ducati Lenovo team, Miller has two race victories and six podiums in total. He finished fourth in last year’s championship and is currently in ninth position this year.

Miller is under pressure because last year he was the second-best factory Ducati rider behind Francesco Bagnaia. “Pecco” finished second in last year’s championship with four wins. Miller is also under pressure due to two young Ducati riders who look to have serious potential. Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati, has five podiums and a race win since he began his rookie year in 2021. Enea Bastianini is currently fourth in the world championship. Bastianini is the only rider with two wins so far this year. He is riding on last year’s Ducati model for Gresini Racing.

Last season, Miller found himself chastised by former Yamaha, Honda and Ducati factory rider and world champion Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo suggested that because of his age–27–Miller needs to win a MotoGP championship, ASAP.

Miller is a colorful character, well-liked for his Aussie charm. Who else could get away with riding a hot-rod Harley to the racetrack when Ducati produces their own cruiser, the Diavel?

No one seems to dislike Miller, but the factory Ducati team is not a popularity contest. Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali is a serious taskmaster, renown for cut-throat rider decisions. Miller needs to perform on the racetrack, consistently, not just in the episodes of MotoGP Unlimited where he is featured passing gas, opening beer bottles with his teeth and acting generally like a 14 year old. On the upside, Miller does have a natural personality, unlike riders like milquetoast Dani Pedrosa or the contrived antics of the aforementioned Jorge Lorenzo.

If Miller doesn’t start finishing races on the podium and not in the gravel trap, there is a strong chance that he will be watching a young rising star on the second factory Ducati seat next year.

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