Ducati MotoGP rider Jack Miller has unveiled the financial incentives for him not to step into a supporting role for points-leading teammate Pecco Bagnaia for the final two races of the season.
Miller, who will leave Ducati for KTM at the end of the season, was mathematically eliminated from the title fight as he was knocked out by Alex Marquez at home to Phillip Island – while Bagnaia now heads into the final two races with a 14-point buffer.
When asked ahead of the penultimate weekend of the campaign in Sepang whether the end of his own title challenge meant he would now focus on Bagnaia, Miller said: “My main focus is still for me, personally, this third position in the championship still achievable.
“Again, another long shot, but those other boys [ahead] haven’t had the most runs lately, so a good chance to pull off some points if this continues.
“I think my main goal is just to try again and again for as many points as I can.
“If Pecco needs help or anything, I’m here, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day it’s an individual sport and I will try to do my best.”
And while a top-three finish would be a point of personal pride, and it is the stated – perhaps even axiomatic – aim of every driver to maximize their position in the championship, there is another factor. at stake for Miller.
This factor maximizes his earnings through Ducati’s famous bonus-heavy contract structure – with the Bologna brand having a reputation for lower base salaries offset by massive performance bonuses, which has already been touched on in the discussion of how whose Enea Bastianini of Gresini Ducati (still in contention for the mathematical title) raced Bagnaia.
“The difference between third and fourth in the championship is quite a considerable amount of money,” Miller admitted.
“Go from zero to something. Believe me, I got fourth place last year, you get it all for that – “Good mate, good job”.
“Definitely push for it.”
Miller is 27 points off third in the standings with 50 points up for grabs.
He was indeed a model team-mate for Bagnaia and adopted a sort of rear gunner role in several races in 2021 and 2022, but was not going to settle for finishing behind the Italian at Phillip Island – rushing Bagnaia twice at turn 10 before backing up to prepare for the final stretch of the race when he was wiped out by Marquez.
Miller thinks the momentum is “well and truly” on Bagnaia’s side now.
“I think he has a bit of a margin, [compared to] Phillip Island enters this race with them being so close, practically even, in points.
“I think this weekend will be a bit different, I can fight a bit more on my own race. Make no mistake, whether it’s for a championship or fighting for 15th or 16th place in the championship, the last person in the world you want to t-bone is your teammate. So you drive around him carefully, I think. At least I do.
“But we will wait to see how the race goes on a Sunday. Malaysia can always be a bit special, whether it’s wet, dry, whatever happens, we have to be ready for anything.
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