New factory Ducati MotoGP rider Jack Miller has revealed he spent 19 days in quarantine, 28 days at home and needed two further operations after surgery to remove metalwork from his leg turned nasty at the end of last year.
Miller had thanked doctors for ‘sneaking in’ the minor operation just before he flew home to Australia for the winter, adding that he was “feeling lighter” without the pin in his bone. But his recovery took a twist during quarantine.
“The leg’s good now. As you know, we had to do quarantine when I went home and I ended up doing 19 days, because in day nine I got a staph infection in my leg,” Miller said, after today’s Ducati Team online presentation.
“So I had to get another two operations done, in the Coronavirus ward, even after I was finished [for] the 14 days of isolation. It meant 19 days in quarantine and 28 days out of quarantine, while I was [isolated at] home.
“The leg’s perfect now, I’ve been doing motocross, cycling. It wasn’t the bone, just more like a flesh infection. But they had to re-operate and clean it out.”
Australia’s mandatory quarantine on arrival may have seemed like the perfect chance to let the original wound heal before subjecting his leg to the inevitable motocross training, but Miller said the boredom of being confined in a hotel might actually have been the cause of his complications.
“I don’t know what happened, if I was because I was bored in quarantine and I kept putting cream on it with my fingers. I don’t know if that made it get infected,” he said.
“Anyway, it wasn’t ideal, but now it’s better than it was [with the pin]. I can run again without having pain and it’s a lot more pleasant.”
Miller isn’t the only MotoGP rider to have recently suffered post-surgical complications, with eight-time world champion Marc Marquez needing a third operation due to a bone infection in his fractured arm.
“I don’t know so much [about Marquez’s situation], being in Australia, off the telephone on the farm,” Miller said. “But I sent him a message when my leg was all infected and messed up and told him ‘we’re in the same boat!’
“I hope to see him back on a bike sooner rather than later, because I think the whole championship misses him.”
While Marquez’s return date remains unclear, Miller is already back in Europe and will be training at Jerez on a Panigale road bike this week to “help his eyes and brain” get used to 300km/h again, before the first MotoGP test in Qatar next month.
After spending six seasons in MotoGP, split equally between satellite Honda and Ducati teams, Miller’s arrival at the official Ducati team is the chance he has been waiting for.
“We were close to a victory a couple of times last year so I think my main focus now is try to win some races, get on the podium and we will see where we end up,” said Miller, who took four podiums last season, but was left seventh in the world championship due to four DNFs (only one of which was his own mistake).
“For sure I want to try and challenge for the title. I don’t want to do anything silly. But the main thing is getting to the first race healthy and staying healthy throughout the whole season.”
But does Miller feel pressure to live up to the achievements of previous Australian factory Ducati riders Casey Stoner and Troy Bayliss?
“I grew up idolising Casey and Troy, they were each great champions. I’m just here trying to do the best that Jack Miller can do,” he replied.
Miller will be joined at the new-look Ducati Team by his former Pramac team-mate Francesco Bagnaia.