Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller is on the verge of signing with the works Ducati team for 2021 according to a report last Wednesday by GPOne.com.
If it comes to fruition it will be the most significant step in the 25-year-old's quest to become Australia's fourth premier class World Champion behind Wayne Gardner in 1967, Mick Doohan 1994 to 1998 and Casey Stoner in 2007 and 2011.
All championships were achieved on Hondas except in 2011 when Stoner scored Ducati's first and only premier class title.
In contrast, the Italian brand has been very successful in the World Superbike Championship taking 14 titles with Australian rider Troy Corser winning in 1996 and Troy Baylis in 2001, 2006 and 2008.
The current Ducati works GP riders are Andrea Dovizioso, who has finished second to Honda's Marc Marquez for the past three years, and Danilo Petrucci.
Petrucci was Miller's team mate at the satellite Pramac Ducati team in 2018 before getting the nod ahead of Miller to step up to the works operation on a two-year deal to replace Jorge Lorenzo.
A maiden win at Mugello and two third places in the first seven races of 2019 looked promising but from then on his results were very disappointing.
After an early career on dirt bikes Miller moved to Europe in 2011 winning the German IDM 125cc championship and then stepping up to the Moto 3 world championship in 2012.
In 2014 Miller rode a factory-backed KTM in the championship, scoring six wins to finish second to Alex Marquez (brother of Marc) by just two points before joining the LCR Honda Moto GP team in 2015.
It was a very steep learning curve to bypass the intermediate Moto 2 class, but in 2016 Miller scored his first, and so far only, win in the premier class by winning in the wet Dutch GP at Assen.
In 2018 Miller moved to the Pramac Ducati team and last year tempered his style with a far more consistent form, finishing eighth in the championship with five third placings in a total of 14 top ten results.
Tyre choice is critical for success in top-line motorsport and in motorcycle racing even more so, but in this area wrong choices by Miller and his team have possibly cost them better results.
In addition, Miller has tended to press on to stay with the lead group rather than be a little more conservative only to find the grip level has reduced dropping him down the order.
There is no doubt the Townsville-born rider has the skill and determination to win the championship and 2021 can't come fast enough.
Vale Ian Beechey
Tasmanian motorsport lost a great friend and former competitor last weekend with the passing of Ian Beechey after a battle with cancer.
Ian started racing in a sports sedan in 1980 meetings with considerable success before switching to speedway racing several years later and winning the prestigious Gary Devlin Memorial Super Sedan Classic at Latrobe in 1988.
He maintained his involvement in circuit racing but after attending a meeting at Baskerville in 1986, he came home dejected by the very poor entry numbers and the lack of close racing.
He then conceived the idea of a cheap, one make, regulated class with limited modifications using HQ Holdens as the base, and with support from others the concept not only got off the ground but flourished.
It was soon adopted nationally and grew to the point where at one stage there were in excess of 500 log-booked HQ Holden race cars in the country and the class continues to this day.
The time and effort that "Beech" committed to the success of HQ racing has left a wonderful legacy for his memory and his induction into the Tasmanian Motorsport Hall of Fame early this year was totally justified and deserved.
To his family and legion of friends the motorsport community sends its deepest condolences and I'm sure when the Qs again line up on the grid the drivers will give him a nod for being a genuine good bloke.