On a Sunday afternoon in early November, Jack Miller won his final Moto3 race, and on the following Monday, the 19-year-old Australian made his premier-class debut on a 230-hp “Open”-spec Honda RCV1000R.
“It was the best day of my life,” Miller said. “I was living in a dream, but it was all true. I’m touching my elbow on the ground more than I ever did in my life through places that I wouldn’t expect. It was one of the most exciting experiences.”
Miller finished the first day at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, 2.7 seconds behind current champion Marc Marquez but only 0.2 behind fellow MotoGP rookies Eugene Laverty and Loris Baz, who are joining the series from World Superbike.
A young Australian preparing to make his MotoGP debut with LCR Honda? Miller appears to be following the same path as Casey Stoner. Even his new crew chief, Cristian Gabarrini, worked with Stoner throughout his title-winning career. Miller lapped initially without traction or wheelie control to understand the feel of the bike.
“Jack made a big step jumping in MotoGP and bypassing the traditional training ground of Moto2,” Gabarrini said. “My first impression tells me that he has the talent to make it. He learned quickly to control the rear spin of the bike without electronic aides.”
Gabarrini also worked with Stoner at the recent Honda test in Japan. “Casey is like a younger brother to me,” he said. “While I have just met Jack, I can say that they have in common the same approach to racing. Both go straight to the point.”
“I never really spoke to Casey, outside, ‘Hello, how are you?’” Miller said. “I never had the chance of a big conversation, but I trust Cristian. He doesn’t want me to rely on traction control all the time. I need to understand and work first on what the bike is doing. He is teaching me like a kid in school and I’m learning every time.”
Besides Gabarrini, the Australian had assistance from Alberto Puig and Takeo Yokoyama, Repsol Honda technical director. “Jack made a really good start,” Puig said. “He did many laps , learning constantly without crashing. In my opinion, this is the key point, because it’s easy to go wide when you don’t have experience with a MotoGP machine.
“His position on the bike was correct, so, step by step, he will learn to manage the power and know how the electronic system and the tires work. He doesn’t need to rush; this is a learning process. I’m sure in three months he will have improved a lot.”
There’s something special about Miller, which encouraged HRC VP Shuhei Nakamoto to sign the youngster to a three-year deal with the Japanese giant. “Honda put a lot of faith in me,” Miller said. “They gave me a great crew. They repeated that I don’t have to rush. I have to do my apprenticeship.”
Like Stoner, Miller started riding on a Yamaha PW50 in the Australian countryside. He was a natural talent on both dirt and pavement, winning numerous local and regional championships before making the move to Europe in 2010. Following Stoner’s path, Miller and his family had a gypsy life on the Continent.
“We were living in a motorhome,” Miller said, “moving everywhere in Europe to race in the Spanish and German championships. We tried to spend as much time as possible on the bike. All in all, it was a great experience as a family.” Once Miller found a solid seat in GP racing, his parents moved back to Australia. “Now I’m a normal guy,” he said, “who just lives 15,000 miles far from home.”
A hunger to succeed along with talent, skill, and ability to adapt are key factors to Miller’s path, traits he shares with other famous Australian emigrants and their families that invested everything in a dream, under the pressure of the stopwatch, knowing that the bottom of the paternal wallet marks the time to show the world their exceptional nature.
Later this week at the MotoGP rookie test in Malaysia, Miller will make another step forward in his dream aboard the new RC213V-RS, the Honda equipped with a pneumatic-valve engine, that he will race in 2015.