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MotoGP Fans Shouldn’t Bet Against Jack Miller

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You are 19 years old, you have never won a world championship, and you have never even raced a 600 in Moto2. Is it possible to jump all the way from Moto3 to the MotoGP class and find success? Australian Jack Miller is the guinea pig who will test this circumstance with the CWM LCR Honda team next year, aboard an Open class Honda RC213V-RS.

Although Miller just finished the Moto3 championship in second place aboard his KTM, he was arguably the dominant rider.  Finishing just two points behind champion Alex Marquez (younger brother to MotoGP champ Marc Marquez), Miller had the most wins (6) and the most pole positions (8). Bad luck at the Assen round saw him throw away points that could have made the difference.

But that is in the past, and if Miller is known for anything, it is his positive attitude. Together with that attitude is huge natural talent on the bike. Miller has some pretty impressive mentors who firmly believe he has what it takes to succeed in MotoGP.  People like Aki Ajo, his team manager and personal manager (more about Ajo below), CWM LCR Honda team manager Lucio Cecchinello (head of the same team where fellow Australian Casey Stoner made his Premier class debut), and even Honda Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, who is the boss of all things Honda in MotoGP.

Like Stoner, Miller grew up on a farm in Australia (actually, a cattle ranch), where he was free to ride dirt bikes from a young age, eventually becoming a four-time National champion dirt-tracker. He loved motocross, and idolized Chad Reed growing up. He switched to road bikes and made his debut on the GP circuit on a 125 two-stroke in 2011 (age 15). Also like Stoner, his family was not wealthy, scraping together every penny to support their talented son’s move to Europe to develop as a roadracer.

MotoGP Tests in Valencia

Miller and Ajo confer in the paddock.

Racing in Europe, Miller caught the eye of Aki Ajo, a former racer from Finland who has developed quite a stable of successful GP riders. Ajo is known for his ability to spot raw talent, and develop champions. Ajo’s teams have three World titles, including the 2010 125 cc championship with a young rider named Marc Marquez, who remains close to Ajo to this day.

Understandably, Miller is taking his time coming to grips with the power, brakes, tires and electronic aides unique to MotoGP machines. He just finished a test at Sepang, posting a best lap of 2:02.9 seconds, which would have placed him roughly 18th on the MotoGP grid this year in Malaysia. For some perspective, Miller took pole position in Moto3 at Malaysia six weeks ago, with a lap roughly 10 seconds slower. Miller will definitely be worth watching as he continues to develop next year.

33 Comments

  1. Provologna says:

    The only reason I can imagine him to skip Moto2 prior to MotoGP is Honda’s fear some other team would snatch him up. Honda apparently gamble the payoff is worth the apparent higher risk of injury/bike damage. Guess we’ll know by fall of 2015.

  2. Brian says:

    Stoner didn’t set the world on fire, although he had the raw talent, until the championship in 2007. He was wise enough to work his way up, going through the intermediate class. Miller should have considered as well. With his finger gestures on the podium, you wonder if he has the maturity for the big bikes. We will see…

  3. Chris says:

    From watching him this year I think he has talent, but what he has more of is some very aggressive race craft. Unfortunately for him, I really don’t think the kind of racing that has served him so well in Moto3 will work in MotoGP, namely he wins by slowing the pace, blocking passes and pushing people wide who are on faster lines than he is. That might work in Moto3 where getting back up to speed isn’t going to happen and each mistake is swallowed by a pack of hungry kids. In MotoGP the fights are generally between 2-4 riders. Jackass is going to have to really change his strategy if he’s going to be anywhere near the top ten next year. For people who didn’t like Stoner because of his attitude, they are going to really hate Miller. Flipping off the crowd because you won the race but you’re not WC? While still standing on the podium? Really classy kid.

    • HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

      Good point about Moto3 style. Rossi was a lot like that too on his pre GP days, though. He might not have been as much of a “pace slower”, but he was all elbows and blocking during pass attempts.

    • Starmag says:

      “Jackass”. Hilariously fitting. Stoner spoke his mind but was a class act. Not so much for Mr. Miller. I’m sure he’ll get a talking to from Mr. Nakamoto.

    • Brian says:

      When did he flip off the crowd? I just watched the podium footage from Valencia and didn’t see a thing…

      • Chris says:

        If you watch through to the end of the playing of the national anthems you can see it. Or do a google image search for “Jack Miller podium valencia” and you can see the two finger (European style) salute.

        • Brian says:

          Oh, I saw that. Not being familiar with the other version, didn’t realize it was anything other than him holding up a “#2” while smiling and posing for a photo w/ Marquez, who was holding up “#1.” Plausible deniability, I guess.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “do a google image search for “Jack Miller podium valencia” and you can see the two finger (European style) salute.”

          see nothing obscure or abstract. all’s it takes is a willingness to broaden one’s understanding to include things from parts of the world that AREN’T america.

  4. Bill says:

    A jump from moto3 to gp….sounds like that movie Rush, about F1

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “A jump from moto3 to gp….sounds like…”

      …someone’s made a conscious decision to sacrifice SAFETY on the altar of the SHOW.

      (heretofore resting peacefully, Simoncelli now does the twist)

  5. Lenz says:

    Give this kid the power he craves and there will be that awesome combination of youthful fearlessness and raw talent that produces exceptional performance ……

    If the bike doesn’t spit him off too often and he can maintain a strong professional focus on the main game he’ll go OK.

  6. Norm G. says:

    re: “MotoGP Fans Shouldn’t Bet Against Jack Miller”

    a tenner says he shorts it.

    • Mike says:

      re: Actually Norm, I would consider donating a tenner to you…just to understand just a few
      of your reply posts every week.

      • Provologna says:

        Let’s politely say Norm has an almost constant tendency to “over personalize” his replies, favoring “pop” metaphors which often fall far short of universal understanding.

      • Colors says:

        Norm was making obscure posts before it was cool.

        • Mike says:

          re: obscure = not well-known : not known to most people : difficult to understand : likely to be understood by only a few people : difficult or impossible to know completely and with certainty >>>

          >>> unless one is cool!

        • Mike says:

          Norm G. says:
          December 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm

          see, mike and colors gets it. 🙂

          >>>>>

          re: anddddd I lost the bet also…….you actually can string 6 words together that everyone understands………thank you.

  7. Krisd says:

    Crikey….she’ll be right mate!

  8. Bob L. says:

    Well now…..maybe the Marquez “Dynasty” is not yet secure.

  9. Martin says:

    Exciting rider, yes, but so are all the riders in the premier class. He’ll be lucky to get a single finish inside the top 10; this next year, anyway.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      A learning year for sure. He will get a competitive bike in 2016, and then we will see how good he can be at this level.

  10. BD says:

    One small lowside so far, and all with negligible electronics. They want him eto learn to ride it without TC etc first. Definitely done all the right things so far it seems.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Definitely done all the right things so far it seems”.

      well everything ‘cept spend a year acclimating to the speed differential in Moto2. the kit he came off might as well as had pedals.

      • Mike says:

        re: Actually Norm, I would consider donating a tenner to you…just to understand just a few
        of your reply posts every week.

  11. Dave Joy says:

    Good luck to him! There will always be room for another Casey Stoner in MotoGP!

  12. Starmag says:

    From 50 HP to 250HP. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else.

    • huu says:

      There’s not a single MotoGP rider that hasn’t hurt himself and others… Its a dangerous sport.

      • Provologna says:

        My first ever MotoGP race was this year at Austin. The difference between watching it on TV, even my 92″ screen/1080P projector/full light control room vs. 75′ from the start/finish line is night and day. It’s absolutely visceral in person.

        I rode a bike making about 160hp weighing over 500 lbs. A four lane freeway shrunk to a tiny ribbon, and cars going freeway speed seemed to be in reverse.

        The thought of another 60+hp and 170 lbs lighter is hard to fathom.

        • Ian says:

          Re: My first ever MotoGP race was this year at Austin. The difference between watching it on TV, even my 92″ screen/1080P projector/full light control room vs. 75′ from the start/finish line is night and day. It’s absolutely visceral in person.

          How very very true. I’ve been fortunate enough to take in a variety of both 2 and 4 wheel motorsports over the last 30ish years. Moto GP & AMA Road Racing at Laguna Seca, Canadian superbikes in Calgary, 250 & 500cc Grand Prix Motocross in Unadilla New York (250) & St.Gabriel de Brandon, Quebec (500), the year – ’82 if memory serves, Brad Lackey finally won his World Championship, Motocross des Nations in Unadilla New York, Canadian National Motocross in Calgary, Supercross & Formula 1. both in Montreal, Indycar in Edmonton, no Nascar – yet anyway. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is a true race fan (whatever the form is) should do the same at least once in their lives. TV simply does not do any fast moving sport justice, whether motorized or not. These Guys (and Gals) are awesome to see live, and you’ll be glad you did.