MotoGP

Quartararo replacing Rossi inspired Ducati switch-up, says Jack Miller

Newly-announced Ducati Team rider Jack Miller thinks the recent 'switch-up' in promoting young talent led to him being promoted for the 2021 MotoGP season

Jack Miller says the wave of new generation riders coming to the fore in MotoGP most likely played a role in securing him a factory Ducati Team seat for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

The Australian, who made his debut back in 2015, will progress from the satellite Pramac Racing team to the factory Ducati outfit next season in what will be his first works deal since entering the sport.

Despite his relative experience at the top level, Miller – who was promoted from Moto3 all the way to MotoGP when he made his first start – is still one of the younger riders on the grid at 25-years old and he believes this was an important factor in Ducati taking a punt on him.

Miller’s promotion comes amid a sweeping ‘changing of the guard’ in MotoGP with the likes of Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo both retiring in the past 18 months, while Rossi looks set to switch to the Petronas SRT Yamaha team in 2021 after being replaced by Fabio Quartararo in the Factory squad.

Indeed, Miller believes Quartararo getting the nod over Rossi in what will be only his third season of MotoGP in 2021 sent out a message to Ducati that it needs to put faith in the riders it has been nurturing through its projects to give them the chance to show what they can do.

“I remember thinking last year that I felt the rider market in MotoGP was in for a bit of a shake-up in the short-term because of the way Marc (Marquez) has been on top most of the time since he's been in,” he wrote on his personal website. “He's only a couple of years older than me, but at first it was the older guys like Valentino (Rossi), Jorge (Lorenzo) and Dani (Pedrosa) who were his main opponents. 

“But things have changed. Yamaha have Maverick (Vinales) who is my age, Suzuki have Alex (Rins) and Joan (Mir), and I was hoping Ducati would see me as their young guy who has been around for a while but is still pretty young to get into that conversation. Marc is the benchmark, so the main goal for all of the other factories is to get somewhere close to him. 

“For me the big switch-up was Yamaha bringing in Fabio (Quartararo) for next year to replace Rossi – it was an inevitable decision but one that had to be done, but for them to actually do it was a different thing because, I mean, it's Rossi... 

“I'm stoked that Ducati see me as their guy in that age range to try to fight amongst ourselves and hopefully with Marc in years to come.”

The young guns are coming…

In a way it is surprising how slow some teams have been to react to the prospect of young riders coming through the ranks when you consider the rapid – and dominant – success Marquez has had from the moment he through a leg over the Repsol Honda RC213V.

While Maverick Vinales’ on-off success for Yamaha may have made some teams hesitant to entirely put their faith in the new wave, there seems to have been a hangover from the years when teams were obliged to put rookies in satellite teams rather than throw them in at the deep end from the start.

Of course, doing this can have mixed results but get it right – as Honda evidently did – and rivals will be forced to play catch up.

As Miller says, Quartararo’s emergence has made MotoGP sit up and take notice for several reasons. Here was a rider with modest results in Moto2, but – once you delve into the data – evidently had a talent, who came into Petronas SRT with no pressure, a clean sheet of paper and a rawness to be moulded into a front-running rider.

While Miller, who has five years under his belt now, isn’t quite ripe for changing now, he is one of several fresh faces - together with the likes of Vinales, Quartararo, Alex Rins, Joan Mir and, to a lesser extent, Alex Marquez and Brad Binder – that stand at the precipice of the sport at the turn of a new decade.
 

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