It had been expected since the summer break, but Jack Miller was finally announced as a 2018 Pramac Ducati rider on the eve of this weekend's Austrian MotoGP.

The Young Australian will thus end his three-year association with Honda, the last two of which have been spent with the Marc VDS team, at November's Valencia finale.

"I'm pretty happy to get that announcement out of the way, it's been negotiations, negotiations… It's been a bit of a headache. We only signed the contract at Brno. So now I can get back to focussing on the job at hand, which is for the Marc VDS Honda team," said Miller, speaking following Friday practice at the Red Bull Ring.

Miller confirmed his choice basically came down to year-old machinery at either Honda or Ducati, which if he stayed at Honda would be a step back from the latest-spec bike he currently uses.

The Ducati deal is also direct with the Italian factory, while continuing with Honda would have meant switching from a factory contract to an agreement with Marc VDS.

"There were no real big factors, it was just that the way I got put the deal from Honda was; 2017 material, with Marc VDS," Miller explained. [VDS] wasn't a problem for me, it was just more on the material side of things.

"It was '17 material at Ducati or '17 material at Honda. I'm more-or-less on the same stuff [now at Marc VDS] as the '17 HRC bike. We are missing a few little updates here and there. But I understand the Honda and I mean the chassis that we all started using at the start of the year, now the factory boys are using.

"They are looking for direction there and they are working hard, but I like the look of that Ducati bike. I think it will suit my style; braking late, picking the bike up, getting it out of the corner. But you never know until we find out.

"A lot of people have gone [to Ducati] and tried to ride it and it hasn’t been the way they expected. I don’t want to go there with high expectations. I think we go there with a clear mind, an open mind and go and learn some more."

Miller admitted changing to Ducati will be a risk, but pointed out he has taken many such gambles throughout his career, none more so than signing for MotoGP straight from Moto3.

"It'll be my fourth year in MotoGP. Change is good and I'm looking forward to next year. I think it's a pretty cool project we've got on the go over there," he said.

"I've been here for three years, straight out of Moto3 and to sign another factory contract after those three years - you can't say it was a mistake. It was a risk going straight from Moto3 to MotoGP, but you can't say it was a mistake.

"It goes to show we proved a lot of people wrong, because a lot of people did bad-mouth us when we made that deal. So it's nice!

"[Ducati] is another risk, but my whole career has been a risk!" Miller smiled. "I moved from Australia when I was 14-15 years old. Risk after risk. But it's the name of the game and it's got me this far.

"I like the look of that GP17. They made a lot of changes this year and it'll be interesting to see how much they change for next year. I'm looking forward to it."

Before his Ducati debut, Miller has eight more races for Honda.

"Like I've said all along, my goal was to be in the top ten in the championship at the end of the year," he said. "I'm twelfth at the moment. Lorenzo is tenth, he has 66 points and I've got 43. So it is a long shot to close that gap but anything can happen. But fighting with a guy like that for tenth in the championship just shows how hard it is this year."

Underlining the closeness of the competition were the Friday lap times in Austria: Miller was only 1.274s from the top, at a circuit where he was injured last season, but ranked 19th.

"It's been a struggle today, but we always knew it would be coming here. We struggle for a little bit of legs in acceleration, but we've got a pretty agile and nimble bike. It's just getting out of the tight corners and along the massive straights," he said.

"I'm 0.6 off Marc and Cal today, I'd like to close that in tomorrow. I can do a faster lap around here and I have done faster laps around here. So it's sort of just getting my arse into gear a little bit.

"I was going a bit steady through corner nine throughout today, just after what happened going through there last year! We've been looking at the data and we’ve got a few places to fix up for tomorrow."

Miller will be the first Australian to join Ducati since Casey Stoner.



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