Jack Miller sat down with Motorsport.com during the Phillip Island MotoGP test to discuss his more focussed 2017 approach, his 2018 options, and his chances of getting on a Repsol bike in 2019.
MOTORSPORT.COM: How are you feeling on the new bike? Is the chassis the step forward you were hoping for?
JACK MILLER: Definitely. It feels good. I rode it at Valencia, I rode it at Jerez, and now I’ve ridden it in Malaysia and [Phillip Island].
Every place I’ve been I’ve felt more confident on it. I’m really happy with how it’s working.
It’s the same with the engine. I haven’t got the completely new engine, I’ve got the step in between at the moment, but it seems to be working really well. The compromise between both engine and chassis is really comfortable.
How has the shift to working with new engineer Ramon Aurin been?
Yeah it’s different, for sure. I’m enjoying it a lot, hearing his take on things and his ideas in terms of setting the bike up. I’m really enjoying working with Ramon, it’s a different style off working. Christian [Gabarrini] had his own style, which is good too, and then Ramon has so much knowledge and experience.
I’m enjoying what he’s been teaching me. I’ve taken what I’ve learnt from Christian, and now I’m learning a lot of new stuff from Ramon.
How has your prep been for the 2017 season? Not to say you haven’t taken it seriously in the past, but is this a different level of preparation going into this season?
Definitely. I’ve really knuckled down this year. Not to say I didn’t last year, but this year I haven’t had any injuries, my focus has been solely on training all winter. It’s been a really, really good pre-season and winter in terms of training. I’ve been really focussed on my diet and everything like that, and really trying to prep as much as possible before we got to Malaysia.
I felt awesome on the bike in Malaysia, and again here in Phillip Island I feel really good. We did the second most amount of laps [on Day 1], we did 80 laps in a day, and I feel really good on the bike. I feel physically ready for the season, and ready to try and give it everything I’ve got on the satellite bike.
Where do you see yourself fitting in to the field this year, with KTM coming in, Aprilia perhaps making some gains, things like that? Have you set yourself clear goals?
It’s difficult to set myself goals at this point, because we don’t know where everyone is. But I’ve said all along that I want to be consistently in the Top 10, I think that’s where satellite bikes need to be. A fast satellite bike should be inside the Top 10, if you want to be looked at by any of the serious factory teams. So that’s where we’ve got to be.
And you can be in the Top 10 in normal dry running this season?
Yeah I think so. We’ve got a good chance of that.
Have you started talking to Honda about a contract extension yet?
Not yet. We’ve got offers there from a few people, and we’re keeping our options open, just trying to get some more. We finished the season off pretty strongly last year after the injury during mid-season, and I’m trying to start this season strong so we can see what we can get lined up mid year.
So you’d potentially leave Honda for the right opportunity?
There are offers out there, for sure. I’d like to stay with Honda because I’ve put in over the last three years on the bikes that haven’t been the best, so I’d like to stay when the bikes are good. But we’ll see what the options are.
Let’s say you re-sign with Honda, is Marc VDS the right team to be with for 2018?
For sure. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far, and I’d like to stay here. They’ve already told me they’d like to keep me, so it’s one of the main options for the upcoming seasons.
How important is this year for 2019, when we could see a shake-up in the rider market?
Definitely. There will be shake-ups. I was really unlucky with the timing of my contract, when everyone else’s contracts were [up], so we’ll just try and do a one-year deal if we can do it. But it’s talking to early for anything like that. We’ve got to wait and see what the options are when they come around.
But a stand-out year this year could set you on course for a Repsol Honda ride, right?
It’s too early to say. For sure they’ll be looking. I don’t know if Dani will do any more after 2018, so… you know, we’re just starting out with the ’17 season, so it’s a little hard to talk about that yet. But we’ll try and do a decent job, that’s for sure.