Jack Miller: Everybody doubts me

Jack Miller was delighted ‘to prove people wrong, again’ during a stunning KTM debut at the Portimao MotoGP season-opener.
Jack Miller, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 26 March
Jack Miller, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 26 March

Off the pace during winter testing, the Australian came out fighting when it mattered.

Miller stunned with the fastest time in Friday practice, before qualifying on the second row and fighting for a podium throughout the Saturday Sprint.

Crossing the line just 1.6s from former Ducati team-mate and race winner Francesco Bagnaia, Miller’s performance was on the lips of Bagnaia, Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez as they made their way to the podium.

“It was funny to hear the insight of the guys,” Miller said on Thursday in Argentina.

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“The soft front surprised everybody, translating what I did on the Ducati to the KTM after I think it’s been renowned that all they can run is the hardest thing in the allocation. So to do 12 laps like that was nice.”

But the four-time MotoGP race winner admitted: “I don’t know what it is. I think people still think I lucked my way into this job somehow. Because I get doubted more than anybody on this grid!

“To prove countless people wrong again has been amazing, it kind of gives me extra power.

“The guys, like everybody else, were surprised to see me there. It gives me an awesome sense of accomplishment to be there already, to challenge these guys, and to prove so many people wrong. It’s been awesome.”

Miller - who went on to claim seventh place, within half-a-second of fourth, in the main Sunday race - insisted that he doesn’t know why he is perceived differently to other proven grand prix winners.

“I don’t know what it is - if I did, I’d fix it. I don’t think it’s being Australian because there have been guys like Casey Stoner and a long line of great Australian champions,” said Miller, who fought for the Moto3 crown in 2014 his third world championship season, then bypassed Moto2 by jumping straight to MotoGP.

“But one way or another, I’m constantly doubted and we’ve constantly been able to prove people wrong throughout my career, whether it be stepping straight up [to MotoGP] from Moto3 when people said I’d be gone within a year.

“Here I am, eight or nine years later, still going. Being able to be a factory Ducati rider, I was told that I’d never win in those colours, and I managed to do it. I won on an underpowered Honda… but I still got doubted.

“It’s always nice and that alone, the sense of proving people wrong, doing it for myself, is awesome.

“That’s what this new challenge is about. I thank KTM for giving me this chance and the support to do this. It gives me an amazing sense of accomplishment and I’m sure it gives those guys something as well.”

Miller's past victories for Honda and Ducati mean he has the chance, alongside Maverick Vinales, to become the first rider to win MotoGP races for three different manufacturers.

Jack Miller, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP sprint race, 25 March
Jack Miller, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP sprint race, 25 March

Miller went into the Portimao weekend without a race distance on the RC16 in testing but emerged with what he feels was his strongest start to a MotoGP campaign.

“It was a positive weekend all around. We made a big step from the test,” he said. “To show our speed on Friday, then back it up in the sprint race. The sprint was the first time I’d done 12 laps on the KTM, the race on Sunday was the first time I’d done over 20.

“So it was an unknown weekend, I didn’t know what to expect, but the team put together an amazing package, a really competitive package. We did what we did best - go racing. It was a lot of fun.

“Watching the race back gave me a big sense of nostalgia thinking of 2014, wearing Alpinestars and riding the KTM [in Moto3]. It made me feel young again, even though I’m getting old!

“It was an amazing fight to be with Pecco and the boys, dicing with them for a lap or two in the Sprint.

“The pace in the {Sunday] race was also decent. I had more to give at the end but I couldn’t find a way past Alex Marquez. It’s a massive boost to my confidence knowing that [tyre] life is there if needed.

“It’s one of my most competitive starts to the year ever in MotoGP. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

“We’ve all got to try and give [Bagnaia] a few more headaches because he’s on Cloud Nine at the moment. He came in with the #1 and has backed it up.”

Miller starts this weekend’s Termas de Rio Hondo event, where changeable weather and a dirty track surface could play to his natural riding strengths, holding joint fourth in the world championship standings with Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati).

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