He has kept occupied with a series of home improvement projects around his Townsville property and a strenuous training program but Australian Jack Miller is desperate to return to MotoGP™ normality.
The outbreak of coronavirus delayed the start of the 2020 MotoGP™ campaign, one Miller was approaching with great enthusiasm given his career-best performance in 2019.
The 25-year-old took five podiums last year, including an unforgettable third at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, and was rewarded for his form with a contract offer from Ducati’s factory team.
Miller, who has ridden for satellite team Pramac Ducati since 2018, happily accepted the new offer, signing a deal for the 2021 campaign - with the option to extend - last month.
His focus is now on returning to competitive action and Miller said the longer than expected off-season has been challenging.
“I feel lost at the moment. It’s the most time I’ve spent without racing in my life, since I was seven years old,” Miller told motogp.com.au.
“To be this long without any competition, you feel weird.
“It’s a strange [feeling] … I guess it must be like a similar feeling to when you retire, you don’t know what to do with yourself.”
Miller has at least taken encouragement from the hopeful resumption date, with MotoGP™ organisers scheduling the first race of a heavily revised 2020 season in Spain on July 19.
Speaking to ex-MotoGP™ rider and fellow Aussie Chris Vermeulen in a video chat, Miller said he had packed his schedule to keep him busy.
“Now that we have dates and stuff like that that we’re working towards [it is better], but at that point, where one Grand Prix was getting cancelled after the other, you’re kind of scratching your head,” he added.
“I was just trying to find little things to motivate me and keep me focused on something because I’ve always had something that I’m working towards.
“When you don’t have a race, you don’t have a test or anything like that that you’re working towards, you’re like, ‘What do I do? What am I doing right now?’
“So I’ve just been tinkering along … at home, I’ve got my shed finished off. Been working on a lot of a little projects, got a lot of bikes done and a lot of different things around the farm [done] so I’ve just been creating myself, my own little goals and whatnot.
“And of course, doing the training, riding a lot of motocross, riding a lot of bicycles, running, doing everything I can to keep myself … active.
“But [I am] definitely missing the competition side of it and the racing side of it.”
Miller said he felt it was “definitely” an advantage to have “two tracks on my property” to help fine-tune his riding.
And while he was understandably disappointed that the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2020 had been cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, his new contract has put a spring in his step.
“It is very disappointing not to have the home Grand Prix … to stand on the podium [last year] was ridiculous,” he said.
“I can’t even describe how good the feeling was. It was nuts … it was just an amazing, amazing sensation and to hear the crowd, how vocal they were when we got on the podium. I still pinch myself now thinking about it.
“[The move to Ducati’s factory team] - it’s something I’ve been working for for a really long time and to finally have that, it kind of hasn’t sunk in yet, [I am] really happy to have that done.
“That means when we do get back to racing, I’ll be able to approach it with an open mind.
“No stress for next year, just focus on the main job this year which is trying to do the best I can with the Pramac team.”
Watch the chat with Miller and Vermeulen below.