MotoGP

Jack Miller ‘close’ to factory Ducati deal for 2021 MotoGP

Pramac Racing team boss Francesco Guidotti expects Jack Miller to be confirmed with the factory Ducati team for MotoGP 2021 very soon

Jack Miller is ‘close’ to agreeing a deal that will see him promoted to the factory Ducati MotoGP team for 2021, according to his Pramac Racing boss Francesco Guidotti.

The Australian came into the 2020 MotoGP season bidding to continue the impressive podium-winning form he demonstrated on the satellite Pramac Ducati towards the end of 2019 as part of efforts to land his a factory deal in MotoGP since making his debut in 2015.

However, the coronavirus hiatus is set to force Ducati to make a call on its rider line-up before racing can take place, including whether or not to promote Miller over either Danilo Petrucci or Andrea Dovizioso.

As it stands, Petrucci’s seat is considered most under threat after a downward turn in form soon after claiming his maiden MotoGP win at Mugello, though Dovizioso has also remained coy on whether he will agree a new deal for 2021.

Nonetheless, it is understood Ducati will assign one of the full factory bikes to Miller, speculation given added weight by Pramac boss Guidotti who believes they are close to finalising a deal.

“The most logical and normal situation is that Jack will go to the factory team,” the Italian told MotoGP.com. "He started with us with the goal of riding for the factory team. After a difficult first year, I think last year he showed a very good potential, he made a big step.

"He is ready for the factory team. They’re doing the negotiations and, as far as I know, it’s not done yet. But, of course, from both parties there is the intention to do the deal. I think it’s close."

Miller’s Ducati promotion would come after a fraught twelve months in which he was pitched directly against current factory rider Danilo Petrucci for the 2020 seat. With Petrucci’s famous Italian MotoGP win effectively assuring him of a factory ride for another year, Miller controversially found his position under threat from Jorge Lorenzo, who reportedly piqued Ducati’s interest with a surprise approach mid-way through 2019.

Ducati eventually agreed another extension with Miller, but not before he was tempted by a big money offer from KTM, which he turned down because he was focused on securing a Ducati works seat in future.

"Last year Jack could have gone when KTM offered him a bunch of money, but he stayed with us with, let’s say, not for little money but much less," Guidotti continued. "It means he’s very happy with the technical aspect, he likes the bike and the feeling is good."

Will Jack Miller replace Petrucci or Dovizioso?

The prolonged racing break has been problematic for Ducati since it was relying on the first few races to directly evaluate whether to retain Petrucci or swap him out for Miller.

The problem Ducati faces is that by promoting Miller to a factory seat, it would struggle to justify moving the Italian back to a Pramac ride. As such, it seems more likely he would be siphoned off to the WorldSBK championship in much the same way Alvaro Bautista was.

Even so, Dovizioso has been keeping his cards close to his chest in recent weeks, even floating the idea of retiring from the sport at the end of the season. Indeed, though Dovizioso has emerged as Marc Marquez’s closest rival week-in, week-out on track, the two parties are reportedly at loggerheads over wage demands.

Should Miller step up to the factory team it would leave a space open at Pramac for Ducati to promote a Moto2 rider with Jorge Martin, Joe Roberts and Remy Gardner all linked to the seat.
 

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