One-time MotoGP race winner Jack Miller will step up to the factory Ducati team for the 2021 season, with an option to extend his stay by a further year.
Miller made his MotoGP debut in 2015 straight from finishing runner-up in the Moto3 class, spending three seasons as a Honda-contracted rider with LCR and Marc VDS, with whom he claimed a sensational win at the 2016 Dutch TT.
For 2018, Miller moved to the Pramac Ducati squad and enjoyed his best season to date in the premier class last year when he guided his GP19 to five podiums finishes and eighth in the standings.
After Ducati’s main targets for a 2021 ride in Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir slipped through its fingers, Miller became favourite to move into the factory team.
Last week, Ducati’s Davide Tardozzi said discussions were being held, but no decision had been taken at that time.
Commenting on his new ride, Miller said: “It is an honour to be able to continue my MotoGP career with Ducati.
“And for this reason I would like to thank the entire leadership team for the trust they have placed in me, and for giving me this incredible opportunity.
“I can’t wait to start running this year. I am ready to take on with all the commitment in the world the responsibility of being an official Ducati rider in 2021.”
Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicalli added: “We are convinced that Jack has everything to be able to continuously fight for important positions, in every race, starting this season, and to take a big step forward next year thanks to the full support of the Ducati team.”
The identity of Miller’s 2021 team-mate is yet to be confirmed, as talks between Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso are still at an impasse.
The issue is thought to be down to the financial side of Dovizioso’s deal, with Ducati keen to avoid big money offers in light of impending financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The vacant Pramac Ducati has been linked to Moto2 fronrtunners Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin in recent weeks – though team boss Francesco Guidotti recently admitted it would be a “miracle” if Ducati could sign Martin.
Danilo Petrucci has been linked to a move to World Superbikes with Ducati, though an Aprilia MotoGP switch has also been rumoured should Andrea Iannone’s 18-month doping ban not be overturned.
www.autosport.com 2020-05-27 09:00:44