Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller believes Marc Marquez’s injury and withdrawal from the Andalusian Grand Prix means he is now a contender for this year’s MotoGP title.
Reigning world champion Marquez pulled out of the remainder of the second weekend of the MotoGP season having experience a loss of energy in the broken right arm he had surgery on just four days ago.
Coupled with his non-score in last weekend’s Spanish GP owing to his crash, and his non-start in Sunday’s Jerez race, Marquez will be at a serious disadvantage upon his hopeful return at Brno at the start of August.
Miller ended last Sunday’s race fourth having run in the podium places for almost all of the 25 laps, and believes with circuits more suited to him and the Ducati coming up next that he is now “in this thing”.
“Definitely it’s changed,” the one-time MotoGP race winner said when asked if Marquez’s situation has altered how he is viewing his title hopes.
“As it sits at the minute, we’re in this thing. So, we need to change our strategy, we’ve just got to get through this round itself, Jerez 1 and 2, 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 where Marc normally goes well at and he won’t be able to take advantage, so I think, like I said, [I need to] just try and get some points up on him.
“Coming to some other tracks with another year’s experience, the GP20 bike is going better again.
“So, it definitely has changed my outlook on this championship.
“I was looking for some podiums, hopefully a top five position in the championship, but now… We’ll take it race by race, it’s still very early.
“But for sure, I kind of do believe I can be a contender in this thing.”
Miller, who will step up to the factory Ducati team next season, believes Marquez’s efforts to race “deserve a medal of bravery”, but questions if it was the right decision for him to try and come back this weekend.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to see him out there doing laps,” said Miller, who will start Sunday’s race from seventh.
“That alone deserves a medal of bravery, but I don’t think it was… I guess you don’t know until you try, I understand that completely.
“But I think he’d have been better off sitting at home back in Barcelona getting himself fit for the next race.
“Coming here, it’s so close to an operation it’s mind blowing.
“A massive congratulations to him, like I said, he deserves a Medal of Honor [for] getting his leathers on let along actually doing some laps in anger.”