Trackside Tuesday: Rookie Rule Redux

07/29/2014 @ 11:23 pm, by Scott Jones39 COMMENTS

Jack Miller pit box losail Qatar 2014

For all the good that accompanied Marc Marquez’s arrival in the premier class, there was one casualty that we should consider reviving: The Rookie Rule.

A brief recap if you don’t recall the details: In 2010 the Grand Prix Commission approved a rule stating that no riders entering the premier class for the first time could ride for factory teams.

This was partly intended as a cost-saving measure and partly intended to placate satellite team owners who complained that without the rule, they would never have a chance to hire top rookie riders.

For several years The Rookie Rule worked nicely with one glaring exception, that of keeping Ben Spies out of the Factory Yamaha squad. Spies came to MotoGP as a multiple national series champion (AMA Superbike), as reigning WSBK champion, and most importantly, at 25-years-old.

Though he’d not ridden all of the GP tracks and didn’t know the Bridgestone tires, his experience with pressure and media attention made him the rookie perhaps most suited to going directly to a factory team. Cal Crutchlow could’ve also made a strong case based on his experience and maturity.

Jorge Lorenzo joined the Factory Yamaha team the year before the rule was adopted, but in my opinion became one of the best case studies to support the Rookie Rule.

In 2009 Lorenzo immediately had the speed required to set pole and win races, but by his own admission he lacked the experience to handle premier class media exposure and the pressure of a superstar teammate.

After a remarkable beginning of his rookie season, he suffered a series of spectacular crashes as he struggled to manage the move from 250cc racing to MotoGP.

When Marc Marquez won the Moto2 title in 2012 and was ready to move up, the might of Honda and Marquez’s Repsol sponsorship made the Grand Prix Commission see things a bit differently.

Teams were also restricted to supplying four riders, which made for complex difficulties of sponsorship and contracts, all of which was explained very nicely at the time by David Emmett.

So rather than make an exception to the Rookie Rule, given the unique case of Marquez, it was removed from the books. Perhaps an exception was not an option, or else what good is a ‘rule?’

But in my opinion, not only should the rule have been reinstated immediately after Marquez was allowed to join the Honda factory team, it should have been strengthened to include a minimum age/experience requirement for rookies wishing to ride the big bikes.

Consider the current situation and the 2015 Silly Season rumors: 19-year-old Maverick Viñales (though he will be 20 when the 2015 season begins) is a strong candidate to join the returning Suzuki Factory Team. 19-year-old Jack Miller (though he will also be 20-years-old when the 2015 season begins) just might skip Moto2 altogether and go from Moto3 directly to the premier class.

I think both of these possible moves are bad ideas, but forces that do not have the riders’ best interests at heart are involved.

At 19, you’re more likely to think you can conquer the world than to see discretion and patience as the proper companions for a long, successful career. So, the riders themselves are probably not the best people to be making such decisions without guidance from more experienced influences who are looking out for the riders’ welfare rather than their own.

Some might say that Marquez’s success as a factory team rookie proves that the Rookie Rule is not required to protect youngsters from competing against the wiser, more experienced riders on the most powerful bikes.

But I say, we must be very careful declaring that Marquez proves anything other than what an exception he is, even among the top class of racers. If he proves anything about humanity, it’s that very rarely someone comes along who can do things no one else can. So I don’t consider his success a sign that the Rookie Rule was worthless.

I think a better case study could be made about a guy named John Hopkins, who in 2002 joined WCM Red Bull Yamaha at the age of 19. Though he showed amazing natural ability, his career did not achieve the heights so many expected. Admittedly, he did not go directly to the Marlboro Yamaha team, and I was not in the paddock at the time, and thus was not able to observe him in person.

I also admit that much of what I know about him I learned from Faster, the 2003 MotoGP film by Mark Neale. The rest of what I believe I know about him I’ve heard from paddock veterans who have convinced me, sometimes in spite of themselves, that Hopkins would have enjoyed more success had he been allowed to mature before joining the 500cc 2-stoke world championship, competing against Rossi, Biaggi, Checa, Gibernau, and other riders who had spent years riding GP two-strokes of varying displacements on the GP circuits.

Some might say that those two-stroke beasts were different animals, not fit for direct comparison in this case with today’s four-stroke, ECU-tamed pussycats. But I say, it’s not only horsepower and power delivery that have changed since 2002.

Consider the rash of arm pump operations we’ve seen lately. It’s almost easier to compose a list of riders who haven’t undergone this surgery than one of those who have. Even 19-year-old Dakota Mamola, son of MotoGP legend Randy Mamola, just had this surgery.

Mamola senior explained recently that the arm pump problem is increasing as the braking forces increase in the sport. My hat is off to Dakota for showing this level of commitment to his chosen sport at only 19-years-old. But I hate to think that in a year or two Viñales and Miller might face the same decision.

I believe several riders have benefitted from not going to factory teams as rookies. Stefan Bradl, Bradley Smith, Scott Redding, and Pol Espargaro are the first to come to mind.

Each has had time to come to terms with the bigger bikes, the responsibilities of daily media appearances, the greater sponsor demands, and most of all, the internal pressure to continue winning when suddenly the competition is so high.

Marquez will likely also be responsible, through no fault of his own, for many a younger rider looking at his success and thinking, If Marc can do it, I can do it. I’m not going to predict we’ll never have another young rookie who can jump on the big bike and race like he was born to it as Marquez has.

This situation does remind me, however, of another group of top riders who looked at the results of one super-talented guy and said to themselves, If Casey can win on that thing, so can I.

The youngsters coming up through Moto3 and then Moto2 look so brave riding around in their superhero suits and helmets, it’s easy to forget that motorcycle racing is a kids’ sport.

All of us who support MotoGP and the supporting classes are in varying ways stewards of their futures, fans perhaps less so than the members of the GP Commission, the team owners, and those who make demands because they sponsor the sport.

But motorcycle racing is not, as they say, a knitting contest. The dangers are not limited to those on track. We should all be thinking about what we can do to make this exciting sport safer for those brave and skilled enough to do it for their own pleasures and our entertainment.

I believe we have a particular responsibility to the youngest riders. Is 19 too young to go to the top class? Without at least a couple of years on a Moto2 bike, yes, I think it is. I hope that, for their own good, Viñales and Miller stay where they are in 2015.

Photo: © 2014 Scott Jones / Photo.GP – All Rights Reserved

  • John Orchard

    Sorry Mate I disagree with you, your article does not show any proof to support your claim. In these recent times of a riders being dumped from not performing due to lesser competitive machinery, you can understand the need for a rider to get on the best machinery as soon as possible.

    Any racer that wins National titles or runs at the front of World Champioship events is certainly capable of quickly getting the best from a factory team.

    I have raced for over 40 years, raced World Superbikes, finished in the top 10 of the Australian Superbike Championship and have roadraced in four different countries, so I do have some idea.

    Regards, John

  • JS

    Well thank goodness Scott Jones isn’t running MotoGP. If there’s a nineteen year old that shows the talent and willingness to compete in the premier class then so long as he’s getting the right support and is protected by the team from overly intrusive media attention then let him compete. I want to see the best compete in MotoGP regardless of their age.

  • Damn

    it doesn’t matter going from moto3 or moto2 straight to MotoGP.
    the moto2 bikes have 135hp so it wil still be a diff of 125hp.

    And the rule that allowed mm straight to repsol was the most dumb rule and could only be forced by massive money/pressure. it turned out very wel or repsol but it isnt fair!
    And saying after mm the rule should be turned back is even dumber why would mm get a shot and other fine riders not?!
    let miller or any other rider try it if they want it!

  • Frenchie

    The rookie rule never existed.

    It only existed on paper for a couple of years (2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons?) and during this time it did not affect any rookie’s carrer or big boss choice.
    This rule did not prevent any rookie to go straight to factory because at that time there was no rookie (Spies, Crutchlow, Simoncelli, Bradl) even considered by the big bosses to go to a factory team.
    So many people cite Spies case. I love him, he is an amazing rider but truth is there is no way Yamaha would have dumped Rossi or Lorenzo (1st en 2nd in the world championship in 2009) to get Spies in for 2010. And the same goes for Crutchlow at Yamaha or Simoncelli and Bradl at Honda (in the following seasons Honda did not draft them to the official team)
    And of course there was already one exception to the rule, Bautista going straight to Suzuki (as they did not have any satellite team), as another concession to try to keep Suzuki happy…

    Honda Gresini and LCR pushed for the rookie rule to be abolished since they would have had to break sponsorship agreements and fire mechanics to accomodate for Marquez own sponsors and mechanics…for just 1 season.

  • HateUK

    Guys, don’t criticize the (admittedly ridiculous) article without understanding the motivation behind it. The only way to keep backmarkers like Smith & Crutchlow in a job is if the media can keep the new guys out.

  • Seth

    Maverick is ready for the move, it would be a huge mistake for Miller to skip Moto2 altogether. It will be a huge blow to his confidence and basically a lost year in a sport where years are numbered. the best example I can think of is Danny Kent, it made no sense whatsoever to go to Moto2 last season. he struggled all year on an underperforming bike and lacked the experience on a 600. add in the fact that with Sandro moving up and Danny’s 2 GP victories, he would have for sure been a (if not the) title favorite in Moto3 last year. now he is mired mid pack on the Husky.

  • Frank

    @Frenchie – I completely agree about Spies and especially Crutchlow, who honestly has never deserved a Yamaha factory ride. He had a good 2013 midseason but that was all while Dani and Jorge were injured and he never managed the consistency that would warrant a factory ride. Lorenzo had an amazing start to his GP career and then crashed a bunch. Marquez escaped death a few times last year. I think that with the lack of immediate competition for Marquez currently in the paddock there is a mad dash approach to finding him some competition. The problem I see with this mad dash is it seems desperate.

    Part of Scott’s argument is on behalf of the riders’ careers. And this could be argued both ways, but I understand the idea that this leap to MotoGP too quickly could ruin a rider’s career. The riders know when and if they feel ready. More power to them. If you feel that you can compete on the best bikes in the world and you get that chance, you take it. Personally I am excited by the prospect of Vinales and Miller in MotoGP. I want to see what they can do. Especially Jack. But my gut tells me that Miller for sure is not ready for that kind of jump. His 2015 ride will be decided before the end of the season, but will Miller even be the world champion? He has the lead but there are 9 races left and some fierce competition.

    Another poster commented that maybe Miller’s camp knows his shortcomings and are pushing to capitalize on his recent successes and cash in as much as possible before the rest of the paddock realizes that he is not at the level they imagine he is. I think this is very cycnical but media/fans are very short-sighted. Right now Miller is the talk of the paddock. Last year Redding was the man at the midway point. Crutchlow was an ‘alien’ even though he’d never even bested Dovi on the same equipment or managed to win a race. As we see – Redding had some unfortunate incidents to finish the season, Pol won the championship. Crutchlow had a disappointing end of the season with many crashes while Jorge and Dani returned to form and is now running in Q1 every weekend on a bike he curses.

    It’s easy to reward quick success. Miller’s season thus far has been impressive. But he has also made some assinine rookie mistakes in races where he could have finished with valuable championship points (Mugello…). That particular race tempered my excitement for him a bit. Where will he be at the end of the season? The championship seems possible but not inevitable. Looking at the bigger picture, I see a young, super-talented rider who has some things he needs to work on, on and off the track (fudging up a contract with the top Moto2 outfit seemed strange and immature). He’s done some damage to his own brand but clearly that shouldn’t affect him too much. Still, a move to MotoGP with the press commitments, sponsor stuff and pressure of the LCR seat… Stefan Bradl > Jack Miller. And Bradl is riding for a new seat next year.

  • Motobell

    You just ARGUED FOR MINIMUM AGE not rookie rule if anything.

    Disagree with you..first time Scott

  • sideswipe

    I think the only rule against Rookies going straight to factory seats or Moto3 riders jumping straight to MotoGP will be the rule of precedent and good judgement. I agree that a 19 year old gunning for glory might think precedent doesn’t apply to them and good judgement might be beyond them but that’s another champion’s tool. The best had good instincts and/or wise minders to steer them to best advantage. Marquez for all his accomplishments in such short time you would think might say that sure maybe he could have skipped Moto2 altogether. He has the head and talent for such a move if anyone does. When he says it’s smarter to go through Moto2 to get accustomed to the size & weight if not the power & electronics of a MotoGP bike I’d think that’s something a younger rider should listen to. If Jack Miller thinks he’s better than that then fair enough, let him have a go. It’s his neck and his career. If he’s spit out the back side of the paddock in 3 years by being overwhelmed his first year then playing catch up and getting swamped by much better prepared and experienced riders then that will be caveat to future riders considering such a move. Didn’t some other aussie rider once make a comment about ambition outweighing talent?

  • Justaguy

    The entirety of professional sports can be summed up by this one utterly brilliant line by Scott:
    “forces that do not have the riders’ best interests at heart are involved.”

    Always. The best that any MotoGP rider (of all classes) can expect is that if they are killed in a race the rest of the races scheduled for that day will no go off.

  • Reader

    One of the worst articles I’ve read. You pretend like racing is a real job, with opportunities always present, and enough for everyone to have a chance.

    Please…. If the ride to make money (or with the potential to make money) is there, you must go for it. Must.

  • Jw

    A lot of speculation about these young riders. For one, I am not comfortable with the almost unattainable pedestal everyone puts MM on. I believe there are a younger generation riders that have the potential to beat him someday. That said, the Dorna rule is in now in place, as fans we have to deal with that. Sooner the better..

  • L2C

    I agree with just about everything that Scott Jones put forth. And the minimum age suggestion was based on qualified experience. So consider it a license. One doesn’t progress forward without attaining one.

    Does MotoGP have the Formula 1 equivalent of a FIA Super License? If not, perhaps it should.

    Sideswipe and Justaguy make excellent comments. Because it is particularly clear to me that Jack Miller is being taken advantage of by his handlers. The kid doesn’t even seem to know that contracts are binding by their very nature. How is this possible? And how well would he manage his professional career at the premiere level without a thorough understanding of all aspects of the game that he participates in? It’s not just about riding the bike, winning races, and “goon riding”.

    Which leads me to this point: Every interview that Jack Miller gives reveals his immaturity. Sure, he can crack the occasional wry remark and witty line. He can also ride the hell out of his Moto3 KTM, but he is still very much a boy in mind and manner. Nothing about him suggests that he is ready to take on the responsibilities that manhood demands. Don’t be fooled by the peach fuzz on his upper lip, or his ambition on the motorcycle.

    And it is clear, crystal clear, that Miller is lost at sea when it comes to even fundamental business aspects of his career. He needs better care and guidance, and more time to get properly up to speed on it all. I really would hate to see him thoroughly wrung out and washed up before he even hits the mid-20s mark.

    Another point is that I have read where journalists – responsible journalists who should know better – have praised Miller for being someone who speaks his mind. One said that Miller reminds him of old-school Australian men. This was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. And I do wonder what it was that Miller said that would make such an impression on a grown-ass man.

    Miller has a boy’s mind and he says the things that boys, particularly competitive boys, would say. But not ever have I heard him speak as a man. What could possibly be so impressive about boyish things said by a boy? I could understand it if Miller had offered some wise words that lent insight into something has dogged the minds of men for centuries, but that certainly is not Jack Miller. Not right now, anyway. So to hype him up as a man who speaks his mind was ridiculous and irresponsible, in my opinion. Miller is a 19-year-old boy. Recognize and approach him that way until as such time he presents himself as a man. Otherwise, you might come to regret it someday.

    As for Viñales, his stats this season belie his performance. Sure, he’s having a particularly good season, but he is nowhere near the level of the Marc VDS riders, because if he was, he would be first or second in the championship. Who knows what the final stats will look like, but if any of the organizers think that a third-place finisher has what it takes to take on Marquez, they are sorely wrong. And save for Lorenzo’s M1, there aren’t any machines available that are capable of making up the difference.

    Does anybody think that Maverick Viñales is better then Stefan Bradl, right now? Notice I didn’t mention Andrea Dovizioso, Pol Espargaro, Jorge Lorenzo, or Aleix Espargaro — all of whom have taken advantage of Bradl’s failure to perform this season. And need I point at that Bradl is still awesome despite that? People need to get a grip.

    The only reason why Suzuki would be interested in Viñales at this moment is because of his marketability for sponsorship dollars to go towards further development of their bike. His talent is secondary because in actuality, he is performing only slightly better than the best Moto2 midfielders. And he is most definitely not at the pointy end of things in the class.

    Miller skipping to Moto2 straight to MotoGP, Viñales leaving Moto2 before he has won a championship and built real value into his brand while gaining invaluable skills in the process. Patently absurd.

    And Marquez didn’t need to say anything because we all know that he’ll kick anybody’s butt on the bike. He has no compunctions whatsoever about doing that. So offering a bit of friendly advice – words of wisdom to those in the support classes was actually generous of him. They should listen. Masters don’t take shortcuts. If they did, they wouldn’t be masters.

  • crshnbrn

    @ L2C

    Well stated!

    re: “And Marquez didn’t need to say anything because we all know that he’ll kick anybody’s butt on the bike. He has no compunctions whatsoever about doing that. So offering a bit of friendly advice – words of wisdom to those in the support classes was actually generous of him. They should listen.”

    I’m a little surprised that no one has touched on that, at least not that I have read. I suppose some could view Marquez’ advice as wanting to keep Miller out of MotoGP for a season or two, but Miller would be a whole lot less competition to Marquez should he skip Moto2 than he will be if he races in Moto2 for a season or two. Marquez doesn’t need another year or two of experience in MotoGP to fend off Miller.

    Some have touched on the performance difference between Moto3 and MotoGP bikes, but again I haven’t read of anyone comparing the very different handling characteristics. Miller would be very wise to learn to ride a Moto2 bike at the front of the pack before attempting to ride a MotoGP bike.

    I am not a fanboy, but Marquez is quite clearly an exceptionally talented rider. How many “boys” will need to fail to accomplish what Marquez has to further prove that? A gifted rider like Marquez comes along only so often. We all would be foolish to think it could happen again so soon, no matter how much we would like to see it happen.

  • crshnbrn

    @ Frank

    re: “Another poster commented that maybe Miller’s camp knows his shortcomings and are pushing to capitalize on his recent successes and cash in as much as possible before the rest of the paddock realizes that he is not at the level they imagine he is. I think this is very cycnical but media/fans are very short-sighted.”

    That poster was me.

    Cynical? What other word is there for it?

    Short-sighted? Hardly!

    I can’t fathom how anyone in Miller’s camp could have Jack’s best interests at heart and would suggest he skip Moto2 and go directly to MotoGP, or at the very least wouldn’t discourage him from doing so. Miller has/doesn’t have a contract with the Marc VDS Racing Team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Marc VDS Racing Team is 1 & 2 in the Moto2 points standings at the summer break having won 6 of 9 races between their two riders. The Marc VDS Racing Team is considering stepping up to the MotoGP class. Why would Miller not want to ride for the Marc VDS Racing Team for at least one season in Moto2, and if things work out, step up to MotoGP with the Marc VDS Racing Team?

    As previously mentioned here on A&R and elsewhere, riders and teams looking to step up to MotoGP should consider waiting until 2016 when the spec electronics rules take affect and Michelin becomes the tyre supplier. Why spend your first year in MotoGP at a distinct disadvantage to teams and riders with years of experience with the current electronics and Bridgestone tyres? Why not wait until 2016 when the playing field is a little more level?

  • My 2 Cents

    Here’s a question. If you were the rider in question (i.e Jack Miller) and were given an opportunity to go straight to MotoGP (LCR) or take a ride with a Moto2 team (say Marc DVS), which option will you take?

    As a sideline commentator, I’m inclined to see Jack progress through the ranks (e.g take a good shot at the Moto2 Title and move to MotoGP).

    But if I was Jack, MotoGP would be the obvious answer. What would happen if the Moto2 machinery was not up to standard or if an unforseen injury occurs? and the chance to move to MotoGP is forever lost? I’d rather have a crack at MotoGP and fail, than to forever think about the what if’s….

    This is why I don’t think the Rookie Rule should not comeback. If a team and its sponsors are willing to take a punt on a youngster, then why not?

  • John Orchard

    It’s not just about Jack Miller, I do agree that it would be better for all concerned if he rode Moto 2 before going to Moto GP, but we are discussing whether the rule “Moto GP class Rookie’s should not go directly to a factory ride”

    Jack Miller shouldn’t even go to a ‘non-factory’ team BUT someone stepping up from Moto 2 or World Superbike can only have good results by going straight to a factory team, as seen by MM. Look at poor Bryan Staring, a fantastic rider but lands a non competitive ride and then gets the sack !!! Put him on a HRC factory bike and see what he can do.

    The rule needs to be altered in that it allows step-up to Moto GP (either factory or satelite) from certain other classes (eg: Moto 2, SBK, World Supersport, Euro Superstock), and only front runners, say first three in the respective classes.

  • crshnbrn

    @ My 2 Cents

    The Marc VDS Racing Team’s Moto2 machinery is definitely up to standard. An unforeseen injury is more likely on a MotoGP bike.

    What if I’d ridden in Moto2 for a season? Then I wouldn’t be a MotoGP footnote, only to be referenced as to why skipping Moto2 is not a good career choice.

  • Xan

    Pretty much wholly disagree. This is a sport whose sole purpose is to generate revenue through entertainment. The only rules should be those that regulate fair play and reasonable safety.

    You sort of act as if these highly invested factory teams are like dangling contracts in front of any 12 year old who rides a bike. You logic sounds exactly like those who hand wring and want a nanny state. Oh my gosh! We can’t allow people to make their own decisions! They may make mistakes!!

    I couldn’t give two craps if Repsol found a phenom 10 year old and sat him on Pedrosa’s bike. If he can win and is safe, who gives a flying shite about the rest?

  • Justaguy

    “If a team and its sponsors are willing to take a punt on a youngster, then why not?”

    I would agree with that except riders teams are not the only sponsors. In F1 I’ve heard plenty of times about “he might get a ride if he can line up enough money (sponsors) to bring with him” and I remember in Supercross that there was a hullabaloo about a ‘Red Bull’ rider moving over to Kawasaki, a ‘Monster Team’ and how that will ‘be worked out’.
    I assume the MotoGP scene is the same, lower quality riders will get a backmarker ride if they can bring a dump truck full of personal sponsor $ with them, which to me defeats the entire series which is the ‘top tier in motorcycle racing’. So the desire to race and maybe become rich and famous is what it is, every kid who’s ever been into racing dreams of that, but not every kid has the XYZ Company pushing them.

    Look at Hayden as an example. Nicky is a former World Champ, that carries weight. He and his family are doing OK with Earl’s business I would think. So does Nicky have an operation and get back on his ride too soon? Of course he does! But why? How much of it is Nicky and how much of it is guys whispering in the team’s ear “we need Nicky out there”? Nicky, Rossi, Marquez, Spies, I think Stoner……… they all have a common thing: family involvement. I don’t know Miller’s family background or anything like that, but I do know Nicky’s whole clan rides (even the sister), Rossi and Marquez’s dad’s rode competitively and Stoner had a cute wife. Those can all trump a million dollars, ask Spies and Stoner. But I think those situations are the exception, not the rule and therefore it is on the governing agency (FIM?) to say “we understand the racing spirit, but we want you to be around to race and not just a flash in the pan”.

    So then the question is why did the governing body come up with, but more importantly, remove the rule? I can tell you why they removed it, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, period.

  • Jordan Goodison


    Wow, you really, really don’t like Jack Miller. When it comes to riding a bike, I’m sure he’s more of a ‘man’ any of us could ever hope to be :P I agree with you though, I would like to see him go through Moto2 rather spend the year coming to grips with a GP bike, I think this would be a greater indicator of his true ability. I guess I’m just a little bit more optimistic of his potential than you… Regardless, you have a hard time separating personality from ability.

    PS ‘I could understand it if Miller had offered some wise words that lent insight into something has dogged the minds of men for centuries’ – he’s not paid to ponder the meaning of life mate. He’s 19, comes from sub-tropical QLD and rides motorcycles for a living, what do you expect? William Blake?

    Unfortunately, you’ve got Carmelo keen to keep an Australian in the GP, something , with Parkes more than likely being passed on next year. So more variables than Miller’s ability comes into it. We’ll see what happens I guess. Anyways, I really look forward to the day Miller wins his first GP ;)

  • Jordan Goodison

    *something he won’t be happy to give up

  • pooch

    @Jordan Goodison

    I’m with you on that one, Mr L2C does more harping on at essay-like length about MIller’s personality and maturity than he does about his ability on a bike. This reminds me of the oh-so-boring Stoner-bashers of old, more concerned with Casey’s prickly personality than with his superhuman abilities on 2 wheels. The difference being, Jack MIller couldn’t give two shi*ts what keyboard warriors like L2C think of what he says in interviews or his emotional readiness to handle the show – he’s there to ride fast. He’s a big enough boy to handle his own affairs but that’s hardly the point here.

    Motorcycle racing isn’t a nursery to protect and nurture – sorry but it just isn’t. How do you solve a problem like MM93 is a question posed a short while back, and the answer was – put Jack Miller and Maverick Vinales on Factory bikes.

    Hey Presto.

  • wrtimmy

    I genuinely hope to see Jack Miller in MotoGP in 2015. Not on factory machinery, but on an open class Honda.

    Let him learn the circuits again with the bigger bike and get accustomed to the media without the pressure of results. Because really, who is going to expect him to podium on a bike everyone knows on a good day can make the top 10? Then in 2016 once the rules level out the playing field give him a factory class satellite bike and see what happens. Then the year after that a full fledged factory ride (DP’s seat at HRC perhaps?).

    We should be viewing the open class Honda in 2015 in the same regard as a top tier ride in Moto2. With the added advantage of learning to deal with the media exposure in the premier class.

    He is a sponsors dream. If a team wants to give him a shot, and he wants to take it, who are we to say no? Like other posters have said – if you were in his shoes, try and look at it with the view that you CAN conquer the world, and the weight of a everyday persons normal life and responsibilities hasn’t killed your drive, would you say no?

  • smiler

    Another unfortunate example of Dorna’s muddled policy and ability to drop anything if the Sponsor shouts loud enough in their ear.
    The idea of moving a moto3 rider direst to MotoGP will end in tears.

  • Jw

    Certainly a lot of passion, bitching and opinion here. As I have pondered it all, I can’t help but think this is just the kind of split opinions Dorna wants. Kinda like when a movie star behaves badly right before the movie is released. A Jack Miller move to Moto GP will create this kind of media drama and sell more tickets.

    Follow the money..

  • Westward

    Melandri, Pedrosa, Stoner, and Marquez were all 20 years old when they entered the Premiere Class of MotoGP. All but Marquez turned 21 during the season.

    The sport and technology has changed, for the most part I personally don’t think teenagers should be allowed on the track in the premiere class for the general safety of everyone involved.

    Marquez spent two seasons in Moto3 and Moto2 each. Vinales has at least one season of Moto2 under his belt. Miller has none. But I suspect both Vinales and Miller fancy themselves the next Marquez. But neither was as dominating in the lower classes as Marquez was.

  • Frank


    -I totally dug your comment and that’s why included it. It needs to be part of the conversation. I would have credited you but I couldn’t recall who posted it. I meant short-sighted in the sense of the media’s eagerness to shower praise on a rider after a couple good results. I think Jack’s case is a little different- I think he is more than a flash in the pan but I TOTALLY agree with L2C’s take on where he is right now. He will have to battle to win the championship in Moto3 this year, and if he rides with Pons next year in Moto2, he will have to battle for top 10 finishes in all likelihood.

    Should Jack Miller and Maverick Vinales heed the advice of Marc Marquez? Absolutely. Are Marc’s comments motivated by a fear of young talent flooding the GP grid and dethroning him? Absolutely NOT. I mean, no big deal… Marquez is a world champion in multiple classes and currently the best rider in the world, but I mean… he must be scared of the imminent ascent of Jack Miller. That’s for sure what Miller’s camp is pounding into his head at the moment.

    I was holding back a bit I think because I also understand the arguments that have been made about the need to grab onto the opportunity when it is presented to you because when will it be available again? Jack Miller could have a career-ending injury next season in Moto2 and miss out on getting that GP shot. But I think it is far more likely that if he does make the leap to GP, he gets devoured in his first year, gets spit back to Moto2 and hovers around mid pack never completely fulfilling his potential. Another poster mentioned Danny Kent. I thought – EXACTLY.

  • L2C

    @ Jordan Gordson, @ pooch

    Jack Miller’s ability on the bike is not what’s at issue here. We all know, and as I have said, his ability racing a motorcycle is exceptional for his class. You’ll find plenty of longer pieces praising his ability on the bike all over the Internet’s motorcycle racing continuum. Not only that, you will also find in many of those pieces — and 140-character-limited commentary on social networks — efforts by journalists to hype him up way beyond anything that he has actually displayed as a racer, as a person, and as a businessman. It is these things working together that has had the effect of blowing the value of him as a rider way out of proportion to the reality that he is actually living every race weekend.

    Miller hasn’t even won a championship title in his Moto3 career, yet he is already being hyped as the next great Australian rider since Casey Stoner. But that isn’t enough, no, he is also being hyped as someone who speaks his mind in the manner of old-school adult Australian males, when the kid can barely hold back tears after losing races or finishing off the podium. Frankly, I thought old-school Australian males were much tougher than that.

    Dorna — and the people who are handling Miller’s career — are also billing him as being one of the riders next best able to dethrone Marc Márquez, and it is only this year that Miller has had the results that only merely suggest that he could win the Moto3 title. Previously, there were only hints that, if given the chance, he might be able to contend for it.

    This is also not about Miller’s personality.

    At the beginning of this 2014 Moto3 racing season, Miller was regarded as every teenaged boy’s wet dream. He was impossibly young and impossibly successful, and he had that bit extra that invites cameras and sports writers to trip over themselves in an effort to cover and document budding greatness.

    Miller was not characterized as being intellectually precocious, he was not compared to worldly old-school men. He was not heralded as the second or third or fourth coming of anything. He was simply regarded as a remarkably talented teenager whose personality fit the package. A few races into the season, journalists began speculating about a successful future for Miller with Marc VDS in Moto2. It was smooth sailing, California sunsets, a star is born.

    Fast forward to silly, stupid, and absolutely absurd season and we see a massive effort to hastily and artificially wipe away Miller’s boyish charms (all the things that made him thoroughly likeable) for the purpose of selling and developing the show!! Now Miller is supposed to be regarded as a man …(reiterating)… an old-school Australian type who is, according to Dorna’s wishes, supposed to “reinvigorate the broadcasting rights of MotoGP in his native country?!?” Ludicrous.

    At this moment, Jack Miller is now deeply involved in a contractual dispute with Marc VDS Racing Team that according to Marc VDS is a binding agreement, but which according to Miller is a contract agreement that isn’t binding. On one hand, we have Marc VDS’ legal team reaching out through the media trying to reestablish communictions with Miller’s camp. On the other hand, we have Miller in the press cutting an absolutely clueless figure explaining that he “doesn’t have a contract with Marc VDS. Not a binding one anyway.”

    Now if at this point you don’t see how Miller’s naivete is being taken advantage of by parties much more sophisticated than him, those who have put their interests (well-being and financial interests) ahead of his, then you will not understand what Scott Jones, myself, and others have been talking about for the past month. And there is not anything else left for me to say on the matter.

  • Frank

    @ L2C


  • derelict hotel

    these are 19 and 20 year old men not children, with ability beyond anything you or i will ever have. i would like to see them on factory rides but there arent enough seats to make that happen. better yet id like to jack miller on a moto2 bike but if factory seat is offered in motogp you have to take it or face the reality of never getting the chance again because another “youngster” will take it if you dont. remember in this sport your old at 27 and ancient by 35. stop treating them as children.

  • Jordan Goodison


    Lest this get out of hand, I stopped reading at “Frankly, I thought old-school Australian males were much tougher than that.”

    Are you serious?! Are you an emotional retard or is the sarcasm being lost on me? This is one of the most touching moments in motorsport history I’ve seen, from no other than Troy Bayliss, an archetypal ‘old-school Australian male’ if there ever was one – @ 4:10

    So yes, obviously I’m an Australian and biased here. I love the guy. I agree there’s a bit of hyping up of his abilities, if measured as a function of his performance in the year so far, but that’s understandable. He’s the closest thing we have to a potential MotoGP champion. I’m sure if the UK had the next Barry Sheene coming up through the ranks they’d be losing their crap. He’s also not Spanish.

    Anyways, who are you to say what a whole nation of bike lovers want or don’t want in our next rising star?

    He pulls mad wheelies, wears his emotions on his sleeve, speaks his mind, and is just a bit unhinged. Most importantly, I’m sure he wouldn’t give a crap about trolls like you. He’s about as Australian as you get mate!

  • Justaguy

    Now THAT is some Australian manliness there! The reply, not the video, although that was a great farewell lap.

    Off topic:
    Jordan, when the ship I was on pulled into Hong Kong for Xmas 1989 the only other non-Brit ship in port was an Aussie one. We Jarheads watched with envy as cases of Foster’s were loaded on board (they rated 2 beers per day, we were never allowed to have alcohol on ship, period) and some of us hung out with a few of your Sailor’s but…….. the good clubs and bars in HK banned Australian troops because they were known for ripping the joint up and from what I saw over that week I don’t doubt that they did exactly that anywhere they went because they did it when they were out with us.

    My step-dad served with Aussie troops in Nam and took R&R in Australia. It is #1 on my bucket list, both for motorcycling, Jeep’ing and just checking things out. When I read about Australian manliness in this article I knew exactly what was meant. Hell, anyone who has seen Love The Beast get’s it.

  • Jw

    When it gets right down to it, all the riders are exploited on behalf of corporations making profit

  • L2C

    Jordan Goodison says:
    July 31, 2014 at 9:17 PM


    Lest this get out of hand, I stopped reading at “Frankly, I thought old-school Australian males were much tougher than that.”

    That was in reference to the comments that the journalist made. You know, the rough and tough, straight-talking and no BS Australian male? It was not a reference to Jack Miller. And it was especially not in reference to Miller since I wrote nine paragraphs explaining that Miller was no such thing.

    But if you want to knee-jerk and avoid the entire point, that’s up to you.

  • L2C

    July 31, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Jw says:

    When it gets right down to it, all the riders are exploited on behalf of corporations making profit

    The riders and corporations exploit each other for mutual benefit, ideally. But the difference between Miller and the top-flight MotoGP guys is that they steer their own careers. We still don’t know if Lorenzo has signed with Yamaha for another two years. It’s pretty clear that both parties are looking out for their own best interests.

    In Miller’s case, he seems to be caught up in a tailwind that was not of his making. He certainly doesn’t seem to be aware of his destination in his interviews.

  • L2C

    July 31, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    Jordan Goodison says:


    Anyways, who are you to say what a whole nation of bike lovers want or don’t want in our next rising star?

    This has everything to do what a nation wants. And in this case it also has everything to do with what Dorna and broadcasters and Miller’s people want — but very little of it has anything to do with Jack Miller. Remember him?

    You do know what happens to young rising stars when they are pushed along too fast too soon and fail to deliver, right? The nation may end up still loving the kid — but not the top teams, not the broadcasters, not the sponsors, not the banks.

    Two riders who raced in Moto2, one a Moto2 title holder, Stephan Bradl and Bradley Smith are hanging on for dear life, clinging to the hope that they’ll survive and get another chance with their teams. Satellite teams. You know what happens when they lose those rides and are forced to go backwards, right? They continue going backwards until they retire and/or find a spot with BSB/WSBK or whatever.

    Want what you want, but don’t forget that there is a price to pay for everything.

  • Claudia

    If a factory team wants to take the chance on a rookie, let them…despite the maturity, the teams aren’t required to keep them for long. If they were smart they would take them on a contract that leaves it open for the factory to keep them or let them go. If the rookie doesn’t want it then that’s on him. They can play the satellite team roulette. If there is no demand there is no need. I personally don’t think Miller is ready, where are his handlers….? Aren’t they supposedto keep him out of trouble? Anywho…I’m going to finish my popcorn….as you were.

  • Jordan Goodison


    You have a fair point in regards to Miller’s ‘guidance’… Like I said, I really don’t think it comes down to the results he’s shown us so far, this year. There are a lot of factors that come into it, tv rights in aus ($$$), a non-spanish competition and the large amount of hype surrounding him. From what I hear, a full-fledge factory bike is out of the question. If he can get a production RCV and the option of a factory bike in 2015, then I

    IF Jack gets a seat next year, I hope it’s a decision that he himself makes. I’m completely with you there. Although, call me presumptuous, but I have a feeling the only reason you’re saying ‘think about the rider, man’ is because you really, really don’t like the guy. Can I ask you an honest question? Would you actually be happy to see him in Moto2 next year and winning?…

    Scott, on the other hand, seems to genuinely care about this young kid’s future.

    PS – What do Bradl and Bradley have to do with this? Bradl won the Moto2 championship, and I’m pretty sure another year in Moto2 for Bradley would not of done much help. It’s sad to see this happen, but what does this have to do with this situation? I don’t get your point.

    Oh yeah, this contract business is pretty ridiculous, and it is DEFINITELY not a good look for future employers. then again, what can you do? Do you know what documents were signed? If there is anything you would like to let us know, please, do share. Until we know the full story, or your a contract lawyer, everything else is speculation.