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MotoGP Dutch GP

Miller reveals brutal KTM U-turn on his MotoGP future

The four-time MotoGP winner was told not to speak to any rival teams before KTM informed him he would not keep his ride in 2025

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller has revealed KTM told him ‘don’t talk to anybody’ in MotoGP ‘because we want to keep you in the family’ before being informed he would not be staying.

The 29-year-old’s future with KTM has hung in the balance for much of the 2024 season, with it widely expected that Pedro Acosta would be taking his place at the factory team in 2025 before the move was officially announced at the start of the month.

But remaining within the KTM fold – having joined from Ducati last year – was still possible with Tech3, and ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix Miller says he was told the Austrian marque wanted to keep hold of him.

“I was surprised, because last I heard was ‘don’t bother talking to anybody because we want to keep you in the family’ and then you get a phone call three hours before the press release gets launched saying that you’re not getting a contract,” Miller said at Assen on Thursday.

“So, yeah, I was surprised. To say the least. But it is what it is. But as I said to them, I didn’t come to this project to be in and out in two years.

“I left probably the most competitive bike on the grid to come over here and try and bring my knowledge.

“And I feel like last year, what we were able to bring already to improve the bike to a certain level was a big addition.”

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: KTM Images

KTM ultimately decided to refresh its Tech3 line-up with two outsiders in Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales and Ducati’s Enea Bastianini, leaving Miller and Augusto Fernandez without rides currently for 2025.

Miller says he has options on the table, with links to Gresini Ducati – which will retain Alex Marquez in 2025 – and Honda emerging in recent weeks, while strong relations with Pramac could make him a target for its Yamaha switch next year.

What’s clear in Miller’s mind, though, is that what he does next is not going to be dictated by his family life and has not weighed up the possibility of becoming a test rider.

“At the moment, it’s all been talk,” he said. “So, it’s about weighing up what I want, what the project has to offer in terms of obviously going to a Ducati is very, very interesting because I know the bike very well, I know the structure very well.

“I have no doubts I can get back on that bike and be inside the top five almost instantly. But a lot of things are changing in MotoGP come '27, and working on a project and looking for a long-term home to finish out my last strong years in MotoGP and working towards a common goal – which I thought we had, but we didn’t.

“So, that’s one of those things we need to weigh up. I have money in my account, I’m very fortunate. So it’s not about that. It’s what I want for my career.”

On the possibility of taking on a test role, he added: “For the moment, I can’t even put myself in that realm because I don’t think of myself as a test rider.

“I enjoy this too much, I enjoy racing. I don’t enjoy the testing side of it, I do it because I enjoy the work because you are working towards a goal.

“But in terms of just going round and round in circles on a motorcycle doesn’t excite me. Going out there and competing with 22 other bikes is what I’m here for. Who knows for the future, but all I want to do is race.”

Does Miller truly merit another chance in MotoGP?

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Australian is adamant that he has more to give in MotoGP, even if he feels like what has achieved already is more than he could have dreamed of if his career does come to an end.

Miller has always considered himself to be one of MotoGP’s most doubted riders, and there is cause for that.

Stepping straight up to MotoGP in 2015 with LCR Honda on a three-year HRC deal, Miller’s attitude and work ethic was heavily criticised at the time. At the end of that first season, he scored just 17 points and didn’t trouble the top 10.

The bike he was on, though, was a production-derived Open class Honda with about as much power behind it as a gentle breeze. An injury-hit second year on a proper RC213V with Marc VDS stunted his progress, but when the opportunity arose to win at Assen in the wet Miller didn’t put a foot wrong.

Being a consistent top 10 challenger on difficult Honda machinery in 2017 earned him a Pramac Ducati seat for 2018 and in 2019 he began troubling the podium a bit more frequently with five third-place finishes.

At the same time, Ducati started to show trust in him by having him develop new items – a role the Italian marque had him carry out up to his final outing in Valencia 2022 long after his move to KTM was sealed.

Back-to-back wins in Spain and France in 2021 ended his drought, but only one win would follow after that – in Japan in 2022, in what was easily his best ride to date in MotoGP. But with factory team-mate Francesco Bagnaia winning six times that year on his way to the title and Bastianini four times on a year-old Ducati at Gresini in third in the standings (30 points clear of the Australian), Miller’s form fell well short of what was necessary.

In his first year on the KTM in 2023, he scored just one grand prix podium (throwing away a golden opportunity for a win in Valencia to boot) while team-mate Brad Binder managed five, as well as two sprint wins, with 130 points splitting them in the championship. That can be somewhat chalked up to bike experience, given how different the RC16 is to the Ducati he previously rode.

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 2024 KTM hasn’t been the consistent package it should be so far, with it scoring just three GP podiums in the first seven rounds. Acosta’s stunning form is helping mask this, with the rookie able to extract the absolute maximum out of it. Binder is only 16 points adrift, so there is performance there.

But Miller has only amassed 27 and failed to score in five of the seven GP races run so far in 2024. That puts him only 14 clear of Augusto Fernandez, and so based on numbers alone, KTM’s decision is justifiable – not least with Vinales winning a GP for Aprilia this year and Bastianini finding podium form on the Ducati.

However, much of Miller’s frustrations at the lack of results this year suggest that KTM has over-relied on his Ducati information to improve its RC16 without actually bringing significant developments to the bike.

“Now we have hit a bit of a wall and that comes down to development, what we need to develop and where we need to go with the bike,” he noted. “There’s only so much bringing the information from another manufacturer can bring you forward.

“In the end, parts need to come, development needs to happen. And we’re at that wall. So, like I said, I didn’t plan on being here for two years. That was not the anticipation. But that’s the way the cookie crumbled. But when one door closes, another door opens and hopefully we can do some decent things because the ultimate goal when I signed for KTM was to try to win on three different manufacturers and that goal is still there.”

KTM’s handling of the Miller situation also shows that it still hasn’t ousted the inherent rider treatment problem it has been guilty of in the past.

Remy Gardner was told halfway through his rookie 2022 season with Tech3 that his attitude wasn’t good enough and was forced to find a ride in World Superbikes for 2023. Raul Fernandez didn’t really want to go to MotoGP with Tech3 and KTM in 2022 having preferred Petronas SRT Yamaha, but ended up with the Austrian marque anyway.

Iker Lecuona was drafted into Tech3 in 2020 as a late option when Brad Binder was moved to the factory team instead, with the Spaniard having not had much circuit racing experience and given little time to improve before being dumped at the end of 2021.

Racing is a ruthless game, however, and Miller’s slump on the KTM has come at the wrong time. Arguably Miller’s strengths lie in being a test rider, but he has proven multiple race-winning potential on competitive machinery and that’s not something to be sniffed at for any team considering the Australian.

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