Miller considers Bastianini a better replacement for his Ducati seat

Miller considers Bastianini a better replacement for his Ducati seat

Jack Miller believes it seems logical that Ducati would replace him with Gresini’s Enea Bastianini because he is Italian and has won three races this year.

Miller’s MotoGP future with the factory Ducati Lenovo Team has been questionable since last year’s Red Bull Ring events, when Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin won for the first time and followed it up with a third place a week later.

Enea Bastianini, another rookie in the 2021 season, had a promising MotoGP debut year after getting two podiums on a 2019-spec Ducati Desmosedici towards the end of the season.

Carlo Pernat, Miller’s manager at Gresini Racing, predicted at the start of the year that Miller would exit the factory team at the end of the season, and that prognosis appears to be correct at this point.

Bastianini won his first MotoGP race barely two months later, in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, on a 2021-spec bike, and he is the only multiple race winner thus far in 2022.

For the third time in the seven races so far this season, he stood on the podium step, or on the podium at all, at the just concluded French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Miller finished second after originally leading and then inheriting a position after teammate Francesco Bagnaia, who already has the seat for next year, crashed while pursuing Bastianini.

The Aussie was asked if the race result meant anything for the already vacant Ducati Team ride for 2023 as reports indicate that he is set to sign with KTM.

“I don’t know what you want me to say; I said it all.”

“I mean, put two and two together; he’s won three races this year and he’s doing a fantastic job, he’s Italian so it makes sense, doesn’t it?” concluded the Queenslander before shrugging.”

Miller compared the Le Mans race to the Grand Prix of the Americas in April, when he similarly led early but dropped to third as Bastianini surged through to win.

“This little bastard has done it more than twice,” he noted. “He’s done it plenty of times. He’s always strong at the end of the race, he’s got a good drive, he’s good on the tyres and he worked it well, he rode a perfect race.

“He started firing it in a little bit deep; I saw him towards the end of the race at Turn 8 getting quite close to the kerb and you can see his body went a bit central and I thought, ‘Alright he might be starting to struggle on the front’; meanwhile, I’ve been struggling for 12 laps.”

Refering to Bagnaia, Miller added: “He was riding a good race and I thought he had the pace to go so I allowed him through.”

“He sort of squared me up on the exit of [Turn] 7 and was trying to pass from the outside in 8.”

“Of course, I can always try to jam it up the inside because I had the inside line blocked, but I didn’t want to disturb him and thought maybe we could pull away.”

“He got in front and set about his pace – he had three laps that were decent – but then I saw he started to struggle on the right side in Turn 8, a little bit in the last corner and then when Enea came past and set to work on Pecco, I thought ‘here we go’.

“I saw him pass him [Bastianini] back at 8, then there was a bit of a scuffle and then saw Pecco come back on the track with a big old black line, completely out of the line, but obviously he was pushing a bit hard there and threw it away in the last sector.”

“We could have had a Ducati one-two-three but it wasn’t to be.”

Bastianini is third in the riders’ championship standings, eight points behind the leader, Miller is fifth, 32 points back, and Bagnaia has plummeted to seventh after his DNF. The eighth MotoGP round is the Italian Grand Prix which will be held in Mugello on May 27-29.

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