Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 08 Jul 2015
MotoGP rookie Jack Miller has come under fire for dangerous riding in the opening laps of this season’s Grand Prix races.
A number of riders have taken issue with the Aussie and things came to blows at last weekend’s Dutch TT, in which he crashed out of the race before completing a lap, taking Avintia Ducati’s Hector Barbera with him.
It wasn’t his first incident of the race either, both Eugene Laverty and Nicky Hayden say Miller collided with them on the opening lap and Laverty says it’s not the first time it has happened.
“I made a good jump off the line and Jack started alongside me, he made a better start and came by me and hit me,” Laverty said after the race. “It moved my front brake lever. It was a dangerous move to do off the start.
“On the back straight he hit Nicky [Hayden] and then in the last corner he took everyone out. Jack is a nice guy off the track but on the first lap he’s not a guy you want to be near. He needs to be reprimanded because there have been too many times this year.
“Quite a few times we’ve hit each other. I have seen quite a few of them [his incidents], in Qatar with Abraham, Bradl in Austin and then other times when he’s hit people like the move he made on Nicky.”
Miller hit the headlines this time last year as it was announced he would make the move from the entry-level Moto3 category to the premier, MotoGP class, skipping the intermediate level Moto2 altogether.
In Moto3, a class full of testosterone-fuelled youngsters, it’s very much elbows out and every man for himself but MotoGP is a different kettle of fish. Some riders think Miller is still riding with that Moto3 mentality.
“You can’t race big bikes like that,” explains Laverty. “The margin for error is too small to make over-aggressive moves. Especially on lap one, when you’re on small bikes you can go for an aggressive move and even if the rider changes their line you can react quickly but MotoGP bikes are too heavy to do that. You can’t just go for a gap; you have to be aware of what other riders are doing around you. They’re going to move as well.
“On the first lap some riders are three abreast in some corners. On small bikes that might be OK but on these bikes they aren’t so agile and you can’t change the line so you have to be a little bit more careful.”
Miller seems oblivious to the complaints and has claimed the crash in Assen wasn’t his fault. “I just got jammed,” he said. “I went for the pass on Alvaro [Bautista] and got hit in the back, I think it was Barbera. I went for the outside and started coming back across and copped one up arse.”
From the outside, it did look like Miller was to blame. While he didn’t knock Barbera off, he did slam in to him at quite a pace. The Spaniard’s leg was then caught in Miller’s wheel, taking them both down.
Barbera claims Miller missed his braking point into the final corner before hitting him: “It’s sickening when things like this happen. I don’t know what he was thinking about, it was impossible for him to make the turn. I was lucky to walk away unhurt, I know he is a rookie and has no experience with these bikes but you have to be clever.”
This view is supported by Alvaro Bautista’s account, the Spaniard adding: “I don’t understand because I was overtaking Hector in a normal way but Miller arrived much faster than both of us.”
Miller’s antics aren’t making him popular. 2006 MotoGP champ Nicky Hayden, who was hit by Miller on the opening lap, approached the Aussie after the race in Assen and says the conversation ‘didn’t go well’.
“I’ll probably talk to him again when I cool down,” Hayden said. “We had a conversation that didn’t go well. The team showed me the data of me running off the track at 300kph. That’s pretty quick.
“It’s not a Moto3 bike where you can kind of bump around. I haven’t seen the videos of the other guys but mine was pretty hard.”
Miller was given a formal warning from race direction for the Barbera incident but officials received no complaints from Laverty or Hayden.
Race Director, Mike Webb has acknowledged there has been a ‘mounting problem’ with Miller this year in the sense that he’s been involved in a number of incidents in which other riders have been taken out. Should these antics continue, Webb will have no choice but to hand out harsher penalties.
Some sources claim that there are already discussions taking place about introducing a rule that would see riders forced to compete for a year in Moto2 before moving up to MotoGP in order for them to gain more experience of handling heavier bikes.
Do you think this would help? Is Miller a danger? or