Stealing Second in Portugal ✊

Stealing Second in Portugal ✊

Hi everyone, 

That was great, I loved that. Final race for me at the Pramac Ducati team, and I came up with something on the final lap to get second place – hard to top that for the boys really, because the only thing that could have been better was the top step. Hats off to Miguel (Oliveira) though, he was in a race of his own up front. I spent the whole race like last Sunday right behind Franky (Morbidelli), and this time I was able to get him. Two second places in seven days was just about a perfect way to say goodbye to the Pramac guys after four years. 

The track here in Portugal is awesome to ride but it didn't produce a great race, it's pretty tight for us on these big bikes. We all took a step into the unknown on Sunday because it was our first race here, and we had no real idea about tyre life and how hard we could go, and for how long. In the end they held up alright and right from the start, when Miguel cleared off up the front, I knew it would come down to me versus Franky for second and that I had to time my attack right. Didn't want to give him a chance to get me back this time. Three corners from the end, I got it done – and it helped to get Ducati the constructors' championship, first time since 2007 when Casey (Stoner) was the world champion, so it's cool there's an Aussie link there. 

I want to say a massive thanks to Paolo Campinoti, Francesco Guidotti and everyone at the Pramac team for the last few years, they've really built me up and I couldn't be more thankful. The last three years I've grown a lot as a rider and as a man, and the lessons I've learned have been irreplaceable. So I owe them so much. 

Miguel was on another level today, really. He went away so fast from me and Franky that the win was pretty much off the table about two laps in. It was harder than I expected around here to be able to pass and ideally I would have tried to pass Franky earlier, but that works both ways because I figured if I got him late, he wouldn't have time to get me back! In the end, I had him by about a tenth of a second, more or less what he beat me by in Valencia. I'd probably spent 60 laps these last two races behind Franky, so I managed to come over the line ahead of him for one lap at least! 

It was the first time for most of us here at Portimao, a few of the guys have raced here in other categories and quite a few of us did some laps on road bikes a month or so ago, but on a MotoGP bike it's a completely different deal. It's an amazing circuit, and the unusual thing is that there's a lot of different corners but not one of them is the same as the next one, so it's challenge to work out your set-up and where you might have to sacrifice on one corner to make the bike better for others. But from the first lap out there, I don't reckon I did a single one all weekend without a smile on my face. It's a difficult track for sure and not like anywhere I've ridden a MotoGP bike, and you could see how much all of us were enjoying it. Definitely good fun, and hopefully we get a chance to come back one day – I reckon Miguel wouldn’t have minded winning with some full grandstands too, but that's 2020 for you. 

I've really found my groove again with the bike in the last few races and it's been good to see. But 14 races in 18 weekends – I like riding most weeks but I'm about ready to have a rest I reckon! To end up seventh in the world championship, my best finishing position yet and one place better than last year … I'm happy with that. Had some bad luck too, so to be seven points off third in the standings … we'll look back and wonder what could have been, it's been a season for that for so many of us. Considering I had four DNFs, it's been a good year. 

Before I go for this week, and for the season really, I can't finish up without a word about my old mate 'Crutch' (Cal Crutchlow) after his last race with us here. We'll always be mates and it's not like I won’t be hanging out with him or whatever, but it's right that we say thanks from everyone in MotoGP for everything he's done on and off the track. He's been great for the sport in his 10 years here and with everything he's achieved personally. It's not like he's going away, he'll still be around as a test rider for Yamaha next year and they're lucky to have him. You would have seen on the TV that me and the old boy had a moment as we came out of the pit lane for the last runs in Q2, it just so happened that we were coming out at the same time, so that was a cool memory to have. 'Crutch' is one of the hardest-working guys I've ever seen and always was, all through the injuries and setbacks and whatnot. He just never gives up and just comes back and goes harder. Seeing how hard he works, that has definitely rubbed off on me and made me a better MotoGP rider and a professional. Cal and Lucy, Cal's wife, they've been unreal to me ever since we were teammates in 2015 and that's something you never forget. 

So what's next? I have a new team to go to of course, so there's a bit to be done before I leave Europe for a while and head back home. It'll be good to get back with the COVID situation getting worse in Europe and get some Aussie summer and get training for next year, because it's a big opportunity for me. It's the one I've been after all my career, pretty much. Becoming a fully-fledged factory rider with a factory like Ducati … it's an exciting time for me, and I'll be 100 per cent ready to go once we start testing. So, hope you enjoyed the season, and I'll speak to you then.

Cheers, Jack