Jack Miller returns ‘home’ for the first time in two years and on the factory Ducati as MotoGP arrives at Phillip Island.
Recently married, in the five-rider fight for the 2022 title and leading a parade of 250 Australian bike fans across the San Remo bridge and round the circuit in the build up to his home Grand Prix, Miller was well and truly loving life as round 18 prepared.
“It took me until about Tuesday to recover,” he joked of his recent nuptials in Townsville, Queensland. “But we made it down here so that's a positive! An amazing point for me, us, in our life and also to be able to break it up into these races. Back on this side of the world finally, has been nice to get a lot of the team there and a lot of my friends and family, friends out of the paddock to come across, it was awesome.”
The wedding also featured fellow Ducati rider Johann Zarco on guitar mid-speeches.
“Yeah, fantastic, we managed to slot him in,” Miller confirmed with a smile. “I managed to save a little bit on the old wedding singer so that was decent too. He done a good job actually, I think he might have a plan sorted for after racing!”
Back to the day job and the 27-year-old was over the moon to be back on home soil after the championship’s two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
"Yeah, I'm buzzing,” he confirmed. “It's awesome to be back on this side of the world. As I've been saying in the lead up to this, throughout Japan and Thailand, it feels so good to be riding bikes back on this side of the world and eventually coming home.
“It felt mega, just to ride across that bridge yesterday with all those Aussie fans. Such a massive country and those guys ride from far and wide to make it here. A very hungry motorsport country, Australia, and they're dedicated fans that's for certain. To be able to do that in the pouring rain with them, down here on Phillip Island, it was something special. It feels awesome to be heading back here, coming back across the bridge and then even getting to do a quick lap on the bikes with all those guys.
“There’s no circuit like this on the calendar and I think no circuit like this in the world.
“It's fantastic as you come down Gardner straight there and you look out over the ocean, I mean this place needs no introduction, that's for certain. Myself, and I think everyone else is pretty excited to be heading out in FP1.”
While the race win is an important target for the Australian, there’s still the championship battle to keep an eye on.
“As Aleix [Espargaro] said, 20 points back, three races, ain't ideal. Well, I got 40 points back so that's less than ideal but we'll just keep doing what we're doing,” Miller affirmed. “I'm enjoying riding the bike at the moment, I'm having a ball with it so if we can continue to have fun and pull some decent results then we'll see where we end up at the end.
“At the end of the day, these boys have got a battle between themselves, I'll try not to do anything silly in there but of course it's every riders dream to win their home Grand Prix. It just feels awesome to be back here on a factory bike and yeah, if we can try to challenge for that on Sunday, then there's no doubt I'll be going for it!”
“It's Australia, so of course it's great,” he said when asked about the unique track layout. “This track's special. I remember coming here my first time doing Australian Championship.
“The first time you come here it's so unique and special and you have to use so much of the track. I think that's one of those things that you never lose, is how you can ride around here with the elevation changes, going up over Lukey heights. Especially on these 300 horsepower monsters, where you're constantly trying to keep the rear in control and fighting the thing to change directions.
“Watching the race back from 2019, seeing all the bikes twitching and carrying on and everybody wrestling them to stay over, that's what gives you the emotion, I think, more than anything. You ride the bike around this track, you really need to force it for everything you do and I think as a rider, when you're doing all these inputs and fighting with it, it's like a dance I guess you could say.”