17 September 2014
Official: Jack Miller to MotoGP with Honda
Moto3 star Jack Miller confirmed as Honda MotoGP rider.
Moto3 title leader Jack Miller will skip the Moto2 class and jump straight to MotoGP next season.
The 19-year-old Australian has finally been confirmed as joining Cal Crutchlow at an expanding LCR Honda team.
Miller will ride an Open class machine, with Crutchlow moving from Ducati to replace Stefan Bradl on the team's Factory class RC213V. Miller is the first rider to move directly from the smallest grand prix class to 500cc/MotoGP since Leon Haslam in 2001.
“I'm very happy to make the leap up to MotoGP next year, especially because I will do so alongside HRC," said Miller. "It's a dream come true; I think that every rider would like to race at the highest level in the World Championship with a Honda. It is certainly a big jump from Moto3 to MotoGP, but I am convinced that we are ready and that, step-by-step, learning every day, we can do a great job.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm very excited about starting this new stage of my career with HRC, whom I wish to thank together with CWM LCR Honda Team. I'm looking forward to working with them! In the meantime, I remain fully focused on this season's Moto3 World Championship. I will have to avoid any distraction in order to fight for the title.”
The MotoGP deal completes a stunning rise for Miller, who began the year without even a grand prix podium.
A switch to the factory Red Bull KTM Ajo team saw Miller win on his debut in Qatar and he has since claimed three further victories. However Alex Marquez and Alex Rins, riding the much improved Honda, have begun eating into his advantage and Miller is now just nine-points clear of Marquez with five rounds to go.
The colourful Miller has become popular with fans due to his hard riding style, straight-talking and goon-riding celebrations. However he also received Penalty Points for triggering a last lap incident at Mugello and has been involved in a contractual dispute with Marc VDS, which alleged a 'binding' contract with Miller for 2015 and 2016.
Marc VDS stated there was no opt-out clause for a MotoGP ride, but the Honda MotoGP deal does explain why Miller was not keen to join a team currently first and second in the Moto2 standings. Alex Marquez has since signed for Marc VDS in Moto2.
Honda will be hoping that Miller can eventually emulate the success of its previous Australian world champions Casey Stoner, Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner. Stoner, like Miller, Stoner spent his first MotoGP season at LCR and there are rumours that former crew chief Christian Gabbarini - or even ex-Valentino Rossi crew chief Jerry Burgess - could work with Miller next season.
“Without any doubt, this is a very exciting project and a completely new challenge for us," said LCR team principal Lucio Cecchinello. "We do believe that Jack will be a future strong performer in the premier class due to his undeniable talent, motivation and drive.
"Together with Honda we will do our best to let him familiarise himself, step by step, with the MotoGP class. For sure Jack will need time to learn how to ride a 1000cc machine but there is no rush, and next year will just be a learning season for him in the new Class."
Miller is believed to have a three-year deal with HRC, Cecchinello confirming: "Honda has a long term plan with him and we believe that with no pressure Jack will be able to show his talent in MotoGP.”
After two learning seasons, Miller (like new Marc VDS signing Scott Redding) should have the chance of a factory Repsol Honda seat in 2017, when the contracts of world champion Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are up for renewal.
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