At the close of the German Grand Prix, it appeared Jack Miller had decided on his future. Weighing up offers to leave for Pramac Ducati or to stay at Marc VDS Honda, the Australian was leaning toward the former, but on Thursday, after a summer of contemplation, the 22-year old insisted, “nothing is signed”.

It appears Miller is awaiting Marc VDS and HRC’s final plans for 2018 in terms of team personnel, before he commits either way. Having just returned from the Suzuka 8 Hours, where he represented Honda in an official capacity, Miller stated his preference to stay at VDS with his current crew.

Over the past eight months, the Australian has forged a close working relationship with crew chief Ramon Aurin, formerly a presence in Dani Pedrosa’s garage, as well as two electronics engineers that have also been supplied by HRC. Should Miller stay, it remains unknown whether he will have the same personnel around him – a clear concern for the 22-year old.

“I really like the team and I’d like to stay here but I’m trying to find the most competitive package for me for next year,” said Miller, who also has an offer on the table from Pramac Ducati. “Whether that be here – which would be perfect -, or somewhere else, we don’t know. I haven’t signed anything yet.”

At what first looked like a fairly straightforward decision has been complicated in recent months. First, it was announced in June that Cal Crutchlow would receive an HRC contract for ’18 and ’19, meaning Miller will not retain his status as a factory contracted rider.

Perhaps more importantly, Honda will only offer Miller a 2017 spec Honda RC213V for the ’18 campaign, in what would be a change of approach for the Japanese manufacturer. This year, for instance, the winner of last year’s Dutch TT, like the four other Honda-mounted men, has a ’17 spec machine.

“For 2018 he will have the option of a ’17 Honda or a ’17 Ducati,” said Livio Suppo, Repsol Honda team principal, on Thursday. “At this moment it’s super complicated to supply five bikes that are all the same [spec]. It’s difficult. Some riders are unhappy that others receive updates and so on. We’re thinking to change this approach.

“In the end, Yamaha’s satellite team uses bikes from one year ago. At the end of the year, they get the factory bikes from the last race. And this year Yamaha’s satellite team has got some good results.”

Suppo was also honest in his assessment of Miller’s season to date, which has featured five top ten finishes from nine races, enough to place him twelfth in the championship standings with 41 points to his name.

“HRC has spent a lot of money and given Jack a lot of support. This year he has Ramon [Aurin], a new crew chief, and also two electronics engineers. Last year he only had one. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes he has showed good potential but technically he has the resources to do a better job.”

What’s more, Suppo went on to say that Miller should be less outspoken when complaining of a lack of resources, pointing to a new exhaust that found its way to the Marc VDS garage for the Sachsenring, which had little impact on the end result.

“In my opinion Jack needs to deliver more,” Suppo said. “We still believe he has the resources to do better. Speaking out about a lack of resources and updates… This is something he should change. Riders should stop complaining, and I’m saying this in a positive way. At the Sachsenring he had a new exhaust and I didn’t see a big improvement in results.”

Asked if guarantees regarding updated machinery would convince him to stay, Miller said that would help, before going on to state his preference to continue working with his current team.

“For sure that would help a lot. I think that would be one of the key points. That’s one of the key points I’m pushing for. But we’ll see what the option is. Like I said, I have a great relationship with this team and with this crew - everybody in this team, from the mechanics all the way up to Ramon, my crew-chief. They’re a great bunch of guys and I wouldn’t mind staying with them. We’ll see.

“There are possibilities there [at Pramac] but nothing is signed, still as of yet. Like I’ve said all along, my main focus was to go and get the 8 Hour out of the way and try and do the best job we possibly could there and then come back here, and focus on what we’re doing for the future. Nothing is signed yet. I don’t know where we’re going to be.”

It is believed Marc VDS team boss Michael Bartholemy expects Miller to decide one way or another in the coming weeks.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...