Ducati Corse sporting director Paolo Ciabatti has explained why Jack Miller has been chosen to join the factory's official MotoGP team next season.

The Australian will be promoted from the satellite Pramac squad, his 'home' since leaving Honda at the end of 2017 and where he has received the latest Desmosedici machinery since the start of last season. 

Miller's 2021 team-mate is still to be confirmed, but he is expected to take Danilo Petrucci's place alongside triple title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso next season.

Ciabatti explained that while Ducati hoped to use the opening races of this season to settle next year's factory line-up, the coronavirus disruption meant a decision had to be made based on last year's performances.

"Jack was already one of the candidates for the factory team already when we discussed about the future at the end of last year," Ciabatti told the official MotoGP website. "Obviously we said we wanted to wait if possible for the first 4-5 races of this season, in order to assess the situation and take the best possible decision.

"But because of this pandemic, it was not possible to start [the season] and waiting until the end of July to take [rider] decisions is a little bit too late."

Petrucci, 29, claimed a maiden MotoGP victory at Mugello in June, paving the way for a 2020 contract extension. The Italian also went on to finish a career-best sixth overall in the world championship, compared with eighth place for Miller.

However, Miller had outscored the Italian by 95-55 points during the second half of last season, including a 4-0 podium comparison to Petrucci during that period.

But track results were not the only factor in Ducati's decision.

"Obviously age is one element because Jack is still young, he is only 25 and has already been in MotoGP for five years. Also, we saw his progression last year and we think he has room for improvement," Ciabatti said. "So in the end we decided he was the right candidate to bring some new energy into the factory team for 2021.

"The expectation is that [Jack] will now consolidate his growth in 2020 [at Pramac]," Ciabatti continued. "Last year he was five times on the podium. I think he has to move from there to a higher position and show a better continuity of performance because he's definitely very fast [but] sometimes he's missing a little bit of consistency in the second part of the race.

"And once you are in the factory team, obviously you have to fight for the podium and win races because this is what you expect from a factory rider in the Ducati team."

Miller already has one MotoGP victory under his belt courtesy of a shock wet weather win at Assen 2016 but had been absent from the podium until last year's string of third-place finishes.

Meanwhile, Ciabatti insisted it was merely a coincidence that Miller will become the third Australian rider to race for its factory MotoGP team.

"We have a good tradition of Australian riders that were very successful with Ducati, obviously everybody remembers about Casey Stoner and Troy Bayliss. But this is just a kind of joke because we look at the quality of the rider regardless of his nationality," he said.

"We think Jack is a great talent, he is definitely one of the fastest and most aggressive riders in MotoGP and we think he can still improve in some areas and become one of the super-top riders in this class."

Assuming Ducati and Dovizioso agree on financial terms, Petrucci's options are thought to include a switch to WorldSBK with Ducati or a possible move to Aprilia in MotoGP, pending the outcome of Andrea Iannone's CAS appeal against his 18-month ban.

Miller's move not only affects Petrucci but also other Ducati riders that were hoping for a place at the official team.

Francesco Bagnaia now looks set to stay at Pramac for 2021 (and probably joined by a Moto2 star such as Jorge Martin) but will Johann Zarco be content to continue at Avintia, especially since the team is set to remain on year-old bikes next year?

Miller has signed with Ducati for 2021, with an option for 2022.

 

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