'It feels like you're stuck in purgatory': Jack presses pause on 2020
Coronavirus: there's no escaping the word at the moment, as the pandemic sweeps the globe and stops most aspects of life as we know it in its tracks. Sport is no different of course, with all but a few major competitions and leagues around the world on hold for now, and with no real way of knowing when they'll start up again. Jack and MotoGP aren't immune; the opening round of the season in Qatar was cancelled, and the following races in Thailand, Austin and Argentina postponed. Quite when we'll get racing in 2020 is anyone's guess. The good news for Jack is that he's using his unwanted time off the Ducati wisely, keeping up his training – "it's too hard to stop and then start again!", he says – and keeping his head down ahead of the resumption of riding in the world championship. Get up, get your training done, get down to the shed to fix bikes and keep focused – as Jack tells us, that's been his daily routine since he returned home to Townsville earlier this month …
So you managed to get yourself home before things got really bad in Europe – was it a case of get out and get safe while you could?
Yeah, definitely. We had the test in Qatar in February and then I went back to Andorra and got ready before the first race, all the usual things like being careful with your diet, making sure you're ready and whatnot. And then the last day before I was set to go back to Qatar, I cleaned the house, did all my washing … and then the message came through that we weren't going to go riding. That was just the start. Once Qatar got cancelled, you knew Thailand would be too, and they were never going to let us into America if those two got canned … as soon as I found that out, and considering it was cold and snowing in Andorra, I decided it was time to get back home. I was back at mum and dad's place before Moto2 and Moto3 happened in Qatar and it was weird watching it at home, not being injured or some other reason for not being there, but watching it on TV. The last few weeks are actually the most time I've spent in Australia for about 10 years, and the one plus in all of this is that it's really nice to be home. You wish it was for better reasons and it sucks not riding but there's a positive to take out of it, for sure. I've kept pretty quiet and have been tinkering away on some bikes in the shed to keep myself busy, to be honest.
What are you hearing from other riders, the team and everyone back in Europe?
There's not been a lot, I've tried to not bug them with too many questions. I've spoken to (team boss) Paulo Campinoti and my crew chief to make sure they're all OK. Italy has been one of the hardest countries hit by all of this so it's hard to not to think of the team, I really feel for those guys. It's definitely not looking good with Italy. Being down here … for once the isolation of Australia has helped us so far and I'm hoping we don't end up as bad as a lot of places we're hearing about.
How has it been keeping up with your training, particularly as we don't know when things are going to get back to normal and we start racing again?
I'm not going to lie, it does test your motivation levels when you don't have a specific time or date to aim towards. You spend the winter getting fit, getting ready, you've done testing and then it all just stops. It feels like you're stuck in purgatory. My whole life is dictated to by dates, you go to a race this week, travel the next week, test some other week … now, you don't really know and there's no way to know. It could be Catalunya, it could be Assen … who knows? My training program hasn't changed – I'm still cycling and I'm still running, and I've made a point of getting up early in the mornings and getting into it. Easy up here because it's warm too, that definitely helps. It'd be easy to lose motivation, train a bit less, put some kilos on where you don't want to … that's definitely something I'm trying to avoid because in the past I've struggled to get weight off if I put some on. I've worked really hard on that aspect of my riding so I'll keep things where I can, that way I don't have to push as hard later to be as close to top shape as I can be. I'll race some motocross, do what I can to keep racing because that's what you're desperate to do when you're not allowed to do your real job, let's say.
You riders are all in a holding pattern at the moment, the fans are too … guess you're thinking of those guys every weekend that goes by when you're not racing?
Yeah, definitely. There's so many people in so many places that love MotoGP and they'll be missing it. Anyone who likes sport – and I count myself in that category as I love sport too – it’s hard when everything you get so much enjoyment out of gets shut down. You don't realise how much you rely on sport as an escape, something to get passionate about, how much you take it for granted until it's not there. Believe me, I know. It sucks, but we'll be back.