Marc Marquez’s injury and zero points from the first two races at Jerez has “definitely changed my outlook on this championship”, Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller says.
Marquez went into the delayed 2020 season as the overwhelming title favourite, but crashed from the Jerez opener and underwent surgery to repair a broken right humerus.
He attempted to ride in the second weekend of the Jerez double-header, but had to withdraw after qualifying.
Miller described the efforts of Marquez and fellow injured riders Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow to ride this weekend as “astonishing” and said it was “a shame” to see Marquez drop out, but admitted the reigning champion’s travails have made him feel a title contender – especially with tracks that he likes more than Jerez coming up on the schedule.
“As it sits at the minute we’re in this thing,” said Miller, who was fourth in the opener and has qualified seventh for the second race.
“We need to change our strategy. I think I’ve said all along, we’ve just got to get through these with as many points as possible, we’re coming to tracks that I really do well at, and we’ll be able to challenge.
“And here’s a track that normally he [Marquez] does well at. Like I said, just try to get some points up on him and come to some other tracks with some another year’s experience, I think the [Ducati] GP20 bike is going even better again, so it definitely has changed my outlook on this championship.
“I was kind of hoping for some podiums, looking around hopefully the top five sort of position in the championship, but now – we’ll take it race by race, it’s still early, but for sure now I kind of do believe I can be a contender in this thing.
“I’ll probably get shut down but it doesn’t matter.”
Though he was as impressed as anyone with Marquez’s attempt to ride in the second Jerez weekend, Miller hinted at having some reservations.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to see him out there doing laps, that alone deserves a medal of bravery but I don’t think it was a… I guess you never know until you try, I understand that completely, but I think he would’ve been better off sitting at home, back in Barcelona, feeling fresh and getting himself fit for the next race rather than coming here.
“It’s so close to an operation that it’s mindblowing.”
Asked by The Race whether he felt an expedited return could make recovery to full fitness more complicated even without a crash, Miller said: “In some cases it can speed it up.
“I’m just talking out my ass here really, I don’t have a horse in this race. It’s completely and utterly up to him.
“As I said, the guy’s an animal. Even to watch him hitting the elbows on the ground, I don’t even do that when I’m 100 percent fit.
“I guess for him, in his mind there, he still knows he can ride the bike and he’ll just get better and better as the days go on.
“I have no doubt he’ll be there at the next round, challenging for the victories again. He won’t lose too much out of this, I don’t think – not as much as we all initially expected.”