KTM confirms talks with Miller over MotoGP ride
Friday 20th May, 2022 - 2:07pm
KTM’s Pit Beirer has confirmed that talks have been had with Jack Miller about a potential move away from Ducati’s MotoGP ranks.
Miller was tipped in Italian media to sign with the Austrian manufacturer during the recent French Grand Prix, as it looks increasingly likely that his seat will be taken by Enea Bastianini, if not Jorge Martin.
Now, Beirer, KTM’s motorsport director, has stated that there has been contact with the Queenslander, as well as Alex Rins of the soon-to-be-former Suzuki MotoGP team and Honda incumbent Pol Espargaro.
As it stands, only Brad Binder is locked in, at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, with the other seat at that team and the two at Tech3 still up in the air.
Furthermore, what had seemed a relatively straightforward process has been energised by Suzuki’s decision to quit MotoGP at season’s end, although that decision is still the subject of negotiations with championship management.
In comments to Speedweek.com, of his native Germany, Beirer said, “When a small landslide like Suzuki’s exit happens, such top-class drivers become available and knock on the door, then you take a breath.
“In principle, we did the same as our colleagues at other manufacturers and listened to a few riders to find out what their ideas were.
“It was a great honour to see who would knock and would like to shape the future together with KTM.
“I can’t claim that we talked to all the pilots, but we definitely spoke to the pilots you mentioned.”
Binder is only in the first season of his current, three-year deal with Mattighofen while, regarding team-mate Miguel Oliveira, it is said by Beirer that he “continues to enjoy our trust.”
That is why Miller has come into the frame as a possible arrival at Tech3, which fields factory-contracted rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, at least the latter of whom appears wantaway.
Rins is fourth in the championship, although he could take some adjusting to an RC16 considering it is powered by a V4 engine, whereas the GSX-RR motorcycles which he has ridden for his entire premier class career to date have featured inlines.
On the other hand, while Espargaro looks like losing his current ride to Rins’ Suzuki Ecstar team-mate, Joan Mir, he is attractive to KTM because he played such a large part in developing the RC16 before leaving for Repsol Honda at the end of 2020.
As for Miller, who is managed by the same Aki Ajo who runs ‘Red Bull KTM Ajo’ in the junior classes, he says it “makes sense” if he is replaced by Bastianini at the Ducati Lenovo Team given the 24-year-old is not only a three-time race winner this year, but also Italian.
Francesco Bagnaia, already signed to ride for the Bologna factory squad next year, would prefer that ‘Jackass’ stays on, something which Bastianini claims is motivated by the desire to avoid the “problem” of a more competitive team-mate.