Doohan/Schwantz: Honda should have placed Miller in factory team

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Honda should have gambled on placing rising star Jack Miller alongside Marc Marquez in HRC’s official factory team in 2015.

That’s the high-risk strategy that MotoGP legends Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz believe HRC bosses could have adopted considering the eagerness to fast track Miller out of Moto3 into the premier class.

Miller has been headhunted by HRC and signed an unprecedented three-year factory contract, which will see him start off riding a new production Honda RC213V-RS in the LCR Honda squad this year.

With Marquez Honda’s clear number one rider and the star capable of delivering HRC’s main title threat, next season was seen as a golden opportunity to blood a young talent in Dani Pedrosa’s place, who has yet to win the premier class crown in nine previous attempts.

Pedrosa has been decimated by Marquez in the two years since he joined HRC in 2013 and the reigning world champion has won 19 races compared to the four won by Pedrosa in the same period.

Aussie legend Doohan, who won all of his five 500GP world titles riding for Repsol Honda, told MCN: “Pedrosa has had plenty of opportunities and for somebody to knock Marc off his pedestal in the future, I'm not sure Dani is the man.

“It would have been fantastic for Jack to be Marquez's teammate. When I came into HRC I hadn’t raced even a 125 or 250 but it seems like you have go through Moto3 and Moto2. But a lot of people are too scared to take a risk. I just don't know why they take the soft option.

“Marc is not going anywhere and he’s only 21 so why not bring someone through? I know they are doing that with Jack in the LCR team but what's the point? He will be on the production bike, which will be good as long as he recognises those limits and doesn't wonder why he is not up the front, which could do him more damage.

“Being on a bike that is inferior to the guys up front, sometimes that can be mentally draining and also a physical strain because he's trying to get too much out of the bike. That's the one thing about being in the factory team. It is up to you, you don't question the bike or the technical support.” 

Texan Schwantz also believes HRC should have given Miller the chance to show his talent immediately by joining the Repsol squad and replacing Pedrosa.

The 1993 world 500cc champion told MCN: “He’s (Dani) done a good job but championships are also something he’s proven he can’t win. Tell me the last guy that got eight or nine years at Honda, didn't win the championship and still got a job? Unless you are writing the cheque I don’t think it happens.”

And Schwantz reckons Miller hit the jackpot by securing a three-year deal with HRC, as it gives him security rather than pressure to show he can earn a factory Honda ride in the future.

Schwantz added: “That gives him great security. He can see how it goes at LCR level and maybe after that he can get Dani’s ride. It might be that if he’s not in the top 10 he could wipe his ass with the piece of paper he signed. But a three-year HRC deal in the first time you get one is pretty special. Mick and Casey (Stoner) never saw anything like that.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt