Miller on title favouritism: ‘I enjoy it a lot’

Jack Miller. Picture: MotoGP.com

Jack Miller has wholeheartedly welcomed suggestions that he is one of the favourites for this year’s MotoGP title.

In his first official running as a factory Ducati rider, Miller was fastest in pre-season testing with an unofficial lap record at the Losail International Circuit.

That performance came after consecutive second placings to finish 2020, a year in which three of Miller’s four DNFs were down to misfortune rather than a mistake of his own or, arguably, even his team.

Even before testing this month in Qatar, others had taken note of the Australian’s form line, with Maverick Viñales naming him the main contender for the championship at Yamaha’s season launch.

Miller, who thinks he has his best chance yet of adding to his victory in the 2016 Dutch TT, said about the prospect of title favouritism, “I enjoy it a lot. It hasn’t really happened to me in MotoGP, so it’s a fantastic feeling.

“But the biggest thing is just to keep our feet on the ground, keep working towards our goal at the end of the season. There’s such a long time between Qatar 1 and when we finish.

“So many, many things can happen, and I think the biggest thing is to not get hung up on anything bad that’s going to happen and just focus on trying to be better each time.”

Ducati seemingly struggled with the new specification of rear tyre which Michelin introduced last year, now-former rider Andrea Dovizioso in particular.

Miller, who rode the same Desmosedici GP20 as Dovizioso last year at Pramac Racing, found no issues with rubber during testing, although circuits other than Losail could present a challenge.

“Last year’s Qatar test? I can’t even remember what happened last week, but I never really had too many issues last year in the test, if I remember correctly, though I could be completely wrong,” said the 26-year-old about feeling compared to last year.

“But I don’t think that here it’s ever been an issue, and the tyre itself seems to be working pretty well here.

“It’s mostly just leaning towards tracks where it didn’t work last year, like Brno or Misano or places like that.

“So I think we won’t really know until we get to the places where the grip level is quite low.

“We’ll have to wait and see, first of all. I felt like I adapted better toward the second half of last season, than say a lot of the other guys did to the new tyre.

“And I feel especially since I got on it this year that I was immediately comfortable with both tyres.”

Miller identified the two late-season races at Valencia, when he finished sixth and then second, as being where he fully came to terms with that tyre.

“I kind of found it, let’s say midway through Valencia 1, a clear indication of what I needed to do differently, and I was able to pass a heap of guys and then just charge my way forward,” he recalled.

“And then Valencia 2 and Portimao [season finale], I felt fantastic just continuing on with that.

“I found just with my riding style and how you had to put the load into the tyre, it’s something I had to sort of switch up.”

The State of Qatar, which also hosts Moto2 and Moto3 testing this weekend, has offered the COVID-19 vaccine to all travelling members of the MotoGP paddock, and Miller will be getting the jab.

“Without a doubt,” he confirmed.

“We’re very lucky to be able to do it so quickly, especially for us, since we risk a lot by travelling a lot.

“I think this opportunity goes in the right direction in the fight against COVID.”

The Qatar Grand Prix opens the season on March 26-28, followed a week later by the Doha Grand Prix at the same circuit.

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