Your Questions Answered: Sepang Test Q&A, Part 2 - Jack Miller, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, And Suzuki

Yesterday, we answered the first batch of questions from Subscribers which they had after the first Sepang test. Those questions covered subjects such as Ducati's development direction, KTM's new chassis, whether Aprilia is willing to spend enough to succeed, what KTM does about Jorge Martin, and what Alex Rins might achieve in 2020.

Today we answer some more questions, including the following:

  • Jack Miller – what is he capable of?
  • Jorge Lorenzo's race pace
  • Dani Pedrosa's contribution to KTM
  • Can Suzuki succeed without the big budget of other factories?

So here we go with more of your questions:

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Thank you very much David. I will watch that video & say G'Day  to Jack Miller next time I see him.

Suzuki's budget is something I'm curious about. Wow! KTM budgeted 250 million over 5 years, this seems a lot.

Quick internet search suggests Honda sells over 20 million motorcycles a year! Yamaha over 5 million bikes. Suzuki sells something like 1.5 million, KTM sold 261,000. Ducati sold 53,000 in 2019. Fifty three thousand! So methinks Suzuki should have more resources than KTM & Ducati put together.

Suzuki don't race in WSBK, Ducati is in SBK as well as MotoGp. So Suzuki are not diluting their efforts in the way Ducati are.

Personally I'm still seeing Suzuki as an underachiever. Hope they win more races in 2020.

You should look at how much the companies made, not how many bikes they sold.  Sure Honda sells tons more bikes, but they also sell tons of very very cheap bikes in many markets where there are small margins. Ducati sells their bikes at a premium and likely have the best margins.

I didn't look up specific revenue numbers, but just because Suzuki sells more bikes doesn't necissarily mean they make more money.  The margin made on each bike, along with the expenses and overhead determine how much money the company really makes.  

Dont forget to include the sponsorship value when weighing the relative budgets. Suzuki & Aprilia are largly self sponsored where Honda - Repsol, KTM - Red Bull, Ducati - Philip Morris, and Yamaha - Monster, all have sponsors with deep pockets.

Thanks very much David.

I did watch that video & will say G'Day to Jack next time I see him. Last time I spoke to Miller was at Sepang 2019. We were both celebrating Billy van Eerde's winning the Asian Talent cup. Coincidentally I met Billy & David Emmett at Assen earlier that year.

Jack has come a long way in a fairly short time. He has lost some of that wildness, but not too much. Less partying and more training. He has grown physically and as a person.

As you rightly say " Crutchlow took Miller under his wing when the Australian entered MotoGP." Now Jack has a mentor & he is also mentoring Billy van Eerde. I'm sure this helps Jack understand the mentoring process and himself better. No doubt J.M.43 is telling Billy to work hard at his craft. That message hits home when we keep on saying it. JackAssen has become " one of the harder working riders in the paddock." More confident, better racecraft. More mature, not just in years but also between the ears.

Thanks for your insight & advice D.E. it helps me understand the sport I love & enoy it even more.

Thank you for your insight, and answering my/our questions. You've definitely up-ed the value of what was already the best source of information on all things Motogp :)

Miller looks ready for a championship challenge? I disagree given that Marc is here. And Quartararo. And Vinales. And Dovi. And Rins. He looks ready to challenge 5th.

Re Pedrosa and testing, he is INVALUABLE. He has the experience developing and getting the most out of a similarly DNA'd bike during its heyday. He has a great work ethic, no distractions, and lots to offer. It shows. Congrats KTM, great to have you! And now, Aprilia too. Honda in doldrums? Given that they have The Marc, also welcome. Yamaha is BACK. Suzuki just took a step forward.

Interested in the tack you take re readers inquiries about Ducati and their perceived mismanagement and poor treatment of riders. The commentary has mostly seemed quite limited in perspective and mostly something to disagree with as partial and underwhelming. 2017 through now they have looked to have one of the two best (or best) bikes on the grid. But, as really good as 3 of their riders can be, no "that next level championship winning" rider. It isn't Ducati negligently churning out an unrideable bike anymore, that would be Honda.

Rookies do well to start on a Suzuki or Yamaha. Not so much the NASA bike. Ok. But while the Honda has been made to look good by a top notch rider, we can perhaps say the inverse re the Ducati since that Australian #27. Well deserved respect and praise for them, yes, but we haven't seen the measure of the Red bike's potential. Have we? Think a bit.

No one came in second behind Marc, look at that point haul. Here comes Yamaha with two of those riders. Bagnaia didn't, and I suspect won't in Red. 2021 he wants on something else for a big bike blossom. Wish he could vet on a Suzuki, but it may have to be a Aprilia. Dovi deserves MUCH praise, but like many things, rose to a shoulder and plateau. The recipe of rider and bike for the Duc has been historically precarious and elusive. But decreasingly. It isn't a Suzuki. But it isn't a pre-Gigi Duc either. It is a fantastic bike quite capable of winning a championship, and has been since 2017. Following each and every "misstep" of Duc management with riders, there has been an understandable perspective of Red brass. They have done a good job improving the bike, and their expectations of riders to get on with THIS bike are reasonable.

Perhaps it is time for a bifocal strategy from Duc w riders. Openly and exceedingly support your riders meeting certain criteria, holding back nothing. Then refresh the rest. Pay more, and only offer a 2 yr contract for those finishing in the top 5 or those making gains at a high rate of improvement. Everyone can race the Suzuki, but 2 get to. Ducati is the inverse. I evidently empathise with Ducati management considerably more than the vast majority, given most commentary. Curious where you will go with it. There is a question mark over their program. I see it answered by a rider more than anything else, only bike on the grid as such.

Still remember him rocking up for one day of testing a few years back and finishing fastest. The current generation of bike probably would have win a title or two in his hands. 

I’m going to have shot at suggesting not which rider is going to beat Marc this year but, prompted by this Q and A process and David’s analysis of rider data from last season, how it might be done. It’s a proposition, no more than that. I hope the very many contributors to this forum far better qualified than I will forgive the impertinence. My starting point is that since it appears that no one has a bike significantly better than Marc, if teams and riders do this season what they’ve always done tactically, the result will be broadly the same and Marc will find a way to win. I also think Marc may be more vulnerable than usual in view of his second shoulder operation and its effect on his mobility and fitness, particularly early in the season. This makes it essential at all reasonable costs to beat him early, not once but two or ideally several more times, because he’s used to winning and it would put him under pressure of a type he’s unfamiliar with if he were to fall a significant number of points behind in the championship. This means qualifying fast, getting out in front and having not one but at least two super fast riders to harry him and get back in front whenever he makes a pass. To achieve this they will have to work together, blocking, running him wide, running different lines, clean and tidy, within the rules - Marc’s approach applied to Marc himself. He’s not used  to it, we know he’s usually mentally strong but we’ve also seen him lose it when frustrated or angry and when this happens he’s willing to take the most astonishing risks, not always without consequences. The riders to do this would have to be super fast, super fit, super motivated not just to win but in particular to beat Marc, and young. David produced a brilliant analysis last season which showed the advancing age of the MotoGP grid. In the absence of better machinery, if I were a team manager (which I accept is a bit of a punt) my conclusion would be that no one older than Marc is likely to beat him consistently this season. I stress consistently. Ok, riders are individuals and they don’t like to be told how to race, but find me young riders on good machinery willing to work together, who start fast and stay fast, are totally focussed and determined, and I’ll show you the team that can beat Marc - possibly.

Check out the Gypsy Tales podcast #112 (by Jase Macalpine).  Its 2 hours of Jack Miller... full bogan and its great.  No Half Euro accent either :) !!

Thanks for the analysis and insight David. I thought Dani would be useful, but wondered how much of his feedback would be useful for the heavier riders, ie everyone else. Turns out to be quite a lot, which makes me happy for him.