Speaking to BT Sport on Sunday, the Ducati MotoGP boss Davide Tardozzi indicated a rider shake-up in 2021, with a “strong possibility” of Australian Jack Miller stepping up from satellite squad Pramac to the factory outfit in 2021.
The Pramac Racing manager, Francesco Guidotti, confirmed that a deal was on the cards to his understanding, leaving a potential seat for a Moto2 graduate to join rookie Francesco Bagnaia.
“So far, we are thinking about Jack in the factory team. It’s obvious we have to manage the situation because the riders that will join the factory team will be two of the five riders that are contracted with Ducati already. Jack did something very good at the end of the season, so we’re thinking he could be a possibility. We are discussing internally about that, and we are discussing also with Jack.”
“We’re very close to making a decision regarding Jack but nothing has been done yet.” – Davide Tardozzi
In the 2019 MotoGP standings, Miller finished eighth with five podium finishes. He was just 11 points behind Ducati factory rider Danilo Petrucci, making it likely that his move up could come at Petrucci’s expense.
Since the second half of the 2019 season, there has been speculation about Petrucci’s future after what many would consider an underwhelming performance, and it was reported that the Italian was willing to terminate his 2020 contract so Miller could move up, making way for Johann Zarco in the satellite team.
But the supposed financial implications didn’t justify the changes, and KTM exile Zarco was placed at Avintia instead, while still directly contracted to Ducati. Like both Petrucci and Zarco, Miller has been in a similar position, after Ducati attempted to sign Jorge Lorenzo in his place which meant his 2020 season looked uncertain. During this time, Miller was offered Zarco’s machine but declined.
The Australian rider was expected to be in high demand nevertheless, especially ahead of the main rider moves earlier in the year. But a promotion with Ducati is looking more and more likely as the rider has some valuable assets and a history with the manufacturer.
Not only could Miller become the young talent that the team has been searching for, but he has also been a test mule in recent years, debuting Ducati’s developments such as the holeshot device and active ride height evolution. This is in addition to the machine parity he already has with the factory riders.
With all signs pointing to Dovizioso and Miller as Ducati’s 2021 line-up, will Petrucci return to the Pramac squad once more, or will Moto2 frontrunners Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin be the favourites to join Bagnaia?