Fast forward now: Moto3 defending champion 2014, HRC MotoGP rider from 2015, Assen win, then switch to Ducati in 2018, when works team boss Davide Tardozzi was already convinced that Miller had what it takes to follow Australian ancestors Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner.
Miller signed for Ducati’s 2021 factory team last summer but had a terrible start to the new year: a deformed rear tire on lap one, an arm pump on lap two, and a fall on lap three that knocked him to the ground and the stitches exploded the emergency arm -Pump operation that he completed after the second race.
The critics were already around – including a former MotoGP champion – and announced that he would never make it if he didn’t try harder.
Miller loves life and in the past he may have enjoyed himself too much, but not anymore.
“I knew that I couldn’t live a lifestyle like that and be a successful motorcyclist,” he told me a few years ago.
“Turn one in the slowdown lap was incredulous, turn two, I started to cry, turn five, I screamed”
These days MotoGP is too fast and too close for riders to have a lot of fun. They have to be ruthless with themselves: limit their focus to one point, strip everything out of their life until there is nothing left but training to prepare their bodies for the race and thinking to get their minds ready.
The paddock is no longer a party place. hasn’t been in years. Old school carousels like Barry Sheene wouldn’t even recognize the place.
“I’ve never been so strict and close with myself,” Miller said early last weekend. “I’m doing everything I can to turn the ship around and get the momentum back. I’ve never been so desperate to do it in my life. Sure, I’ve been in worse shit before, but we’re in the shit right now, it’s that simple.
“Everything is there – the speed is there, everything is there, I just have to bring everything together. Time will tell whether we can make it or not. I’m working on it and I have to try to do it. “
It all finally came together on Sunday when Miller Ducati’s first Jerez win since 2006 and was chased to the finish line by team-mate Pecco Bagnaia for a rare one-two from Bolognese.
Cal and Lucy Crutchlow have been Miller’s greatest supporters since Cal and Jack rode together at LCR Honda
As he checked the checkered flag, the memories of the past decade flooded him like a tidal wave of emotions.
“Turn one on the slowdown lap was incredulous. Turn two, I started crying, Turn five, I screamed,” he said. “To be honest, I can’t believe it. You try something all your life – the one thing you think about 90% of the time – and when it finally happens you don’t believe it because you’ve been wrong so many times.
“I’m sorry to look like a big softy on TV. I tried to fight the tears, but when I heard everyone in the pit lane clapping me, I couldn’t hold back. I try to be the most sincere person I can be. I know a lot of people want me to do good, so it meant a lot today. Dreams come true – it’s damn cool! “
Miller revealed that the person who made the greatest success of his career so far was Lucy Crutchlow, the wife of his closest racing friend, Cal Crutchlow.
“The criticism I’ve had over the past few weeks has not been easy to live with. I was angry, frustrated, and didn’t trust myself. I am going to say a massive thing. I now have a new life coach. It used to be my mom, but now it’s Lucy who’s been calling me out of the blue all weekend and telling me, “You’re damn good! You can do it!’. Pretty aggressive! That’s why I have to thank her very much. It feels good to hear things like that because you need them sometimes, because at the end of the day we are all human and we all have doubts. “
Though Ducati hadn’t won at Jerez since Loris Capirossi won the championship opening round in 2006, Miller denied that Gigi Dall’Igna and his engineers had only just found the secret to winning there.
“We proved last year that this can be a Ducati circuit – [Andrea] Dovizioso and I were third and fourth in the first race here last year and Pecco could have won here if he hadn’t had this mechanic. This year’s bike is pretty similar and works pretty well here. “
Miller spent much of the 25 laps chasing after a burning Fabio Quartararo, who was working his way forward so quickly and clinically that a third straight win seemed assured. All Miller could do was chase and use the Frenchman’s speed to pull him out of the pack so he could at least take his first podium of the year.
“I thought Fabio was going to destroy us so I kicked the hook to be dragged around a couple of laps to get a good enough gap so that I could wiggle around in the final laps and get a podium. Then he didn’t go away anymore. The biggest surprise was when I got around the loop after passing him. I saw +0.6 on my board – thought you were kidding! “
This was Ducati’s first one-two since Brno 2018, when Dovizioso led Jorge Lorenzo across the line. This made Jerez an important day for Ducati, but could the Bolognese plant now have the best MotoGP rider line-up? The result undoubtedly confirms the decision of Ducati chief engineer Gigi Dall’Igna to create a completely new team for 2021.
Miller is 26 years old, Bagnaia only 24 years old, and both have their own ways of driving the once unruly Desmosedici onto racetracks.
Ducati celebrates in Jerez on Sunday – is this the best MotoGP team in the factory?
After the race, the two discussed their different approaches to getting the bike running – Miller uses the front end harder, Bagnaia the rear.
“We have two completely different attitudes, but we ride pretty much the same,” said Bagnaia, who has not yet won his first MotoGP race. “I think I brake harder because I can stop the bike very quickly, but maybe Jack is faster when entering a corner. I sit more on the back of the bike. “
Miller’s style is rather old-fashioned. “I have to sit closer to the front of the bike because you can see where I’m sticking my ass in the corners! Pecco bends over with his shoulder while I go out with my ass trying to become more like Mick Doohan. Pecco is more like modern. “
Bagnaia’s biggest worry after the race was Sunday night – the team party. Miller may have learned the art of self-control, but last night would be different even if he were to test in Jerez today.
“I’m going to drink about 30 beers and hopefully wake up without a hangover so I can drive tomorrow – nine to nine and you can wake up well,” laughed Miller, while Bagnaia fidgeted nervously.
“Tonight it’s going to be very difficult with Jack,” he grinned. “I remember Phillip Island a few years ago. We were at the Sunday night party together and he was very angry with me because I didn’t like the tequila and he wanted to give me tequila – I have to take care of him! “
Miller, Bagnaia and the Ducati certainly deserved a celebration last night, but it’s worth noting that the real reason for their one-two was Quartararo’s arm pump, which the Frenchman stuck to for life, going two seconds slower than his potential.
Arm pumping is a condition that has haunted motorcycle racers since the 1980s. The physical stresses of riding a 500cc GP bike or MotoGP bike are so overwhelming that riders overuse certain muscles and build and grow those muscles until they break through the non-stretchable membranes that hold them in place , be restricted. This restricts the blood flow and then the problems begin.