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9 days ago
By motogp.com

20 years on: Mir helps Suzuki lead title race again

The Spaniard sits P1 with four races to go in 2020, the first Hamamatsu factory rider to lead the way since Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000

Thanks to his fifth podium in seven races, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is the new 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship leader. His third place at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon sees the Spaniard leapfrog Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in the overall standings, becoming the first Suzuki rider to the lead the title race in 20 years – Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000 the last for the Hamamatsu factory. 

Despite not winning a Grand Prix since the 2017 Moto3™ Malaysian GP, Mir is six points clear of anyone else in the blisteringly spectacular race to become 2020 MotoGP™ World Champion. The premier class sophomore has been by far the most consistent rider since his Austrian GP podium and despite that illustrious first MotoGP™ win eluding him still, Mir is now the leading contender for motorcycle racing’s pinnacle crown.

“Yeah it was really positive because we took important points for the Championship,” said Mir, chatting to motogp.com after the race. Mir’s teammate Alex Rins became the eighth different winner in 2020 and finished 2.6 seconds up the road from the number 36, with Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) proving exactly why he’s a factory Honda rider for the second time in two weekends to finish P2.

For this reason, Mir wasn’t overjoyed with P3. MotoGP™ riders are born winners and although he cracked a smile at becoming the first Suzuki rider to lead a Championship since Kenny Roberts Jr, Mir cut an ever so slightly downbeat figure.

“I’m a bit disappointed honestly, I expected a bit more in the last part of the race, I was saving the rear tyre by being smooth in the first part of the race,” continued the 2017 Moto3™ World Champion. “Then I had some trouble with the left part of the soft tyre, with these temperatures and being behind some riders we had some problems. We didn’t manage in a good way, how to use this tyre. That was the problem. I want to thank the team, Michelin and everybody that helped me make this race. Today wasn’t our day, but I’m happy to be here again.”

 

It may not have been Mir’s day to win, but it was his day to become a MotoGP™ World Championship leader for the first time. Asked whether this changes his approach to the final four races, Mir was clear in his answer: no.  

“I will not change the way to approach the races, this is for sure. I will continue working race by race, trying to get as many points as possible, trying to get the victory every GP. Then in the last race we will look at the Championship and see where we are.”

A 16-point turnaround in Mir’s favour occurred on Sunday at MotorLand Aragon, but the gap between the leading four has closed up. 15 points cover Mir, Quartararo, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). Can Mir claim the 2020 crown without winning a race, something the other three have already done this year? Yes. Consistency has been the potion that has got him to P1 in the standings. Suzuki have – arguably – the best all-round package on the grid, the GSX-RR has been on song pretty much everywhere this season. It’s important that Suzuki and Mir are now on song for the final four rounds of the campaign, because Mir is now in the driving seat.

A second MotorLand Aragon assault now faces the new Championship leader, and another podium would do just nicely. It’s that victory the 23-year-old wants though. So, can Mir and the Hamamatsu factory hit the ground running and fix the issues Mir spoke about in the latter half of the race? We don’t have to wait long to find out.

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