3 weeks ago
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The long sought-after MotoGP™ victory may still evade Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir, but a sixth podium in eight races has seen the premier class sophomore soar to 14 points ahead of the field with just three races to go in 2020.
A second consecutive P3 came the Spaniard’s way at the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel, seven days after he took the bronze medal in the Aragon GP. He may have finished behind teammate Alex Rins on both occasions – who in turn has catapulted himself into the title frame – but that won’t bother Mir too much. Consistency in 2020 is going to win you the Championship and right now, Mir is Mr Consistency.
Mir’s points total from the Austria to Teruel is 126, a run that has included three P2s, three P3s, a P4 – in a race that was his to lose before Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) red flag crash – and the 11th place in a wet Le Mans encounter. Compare that to three-time 2020 winner Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) total in the same time period (64) and you see why Mir is now 14 points clear of the Frenchman, despite Mir being 48 points down on El Diablo after the opening three races.
In a weird but wonderful 2020 season, Mir’s consistency has seen him roar into the final three battles as the title favourite. The last rider to win a World Championship without standing on the top step was Emilio Alzamora in the 1999 125cc season. It goes without saying how much Mir wants to win a MotoGP™ race, but if he’s the one lifting the coveted crown either in Portimao or beforehand, he won’t care an ounce about not winning a race in 2020.
And the fact is, he doesn’t need to win. P2s and P3s from here on in probably hands the number 36 and Suzuki the title, depending on the results of other riders of course. Having said that, it doesn’t mean the dominant 2017 Moto3™ World Champion won’t be fighting tooth and nail for his first premier class win – if he needs to.
“Yeah it was a tough race, never easy to start from P12. I was able to make a good start and make a great job at the beginning, I lost a bit of time with Zarco. He was quite strong on the brakes and it was difficult to overtake him, the power of the Ducati is always a nice thing,” commented Mir, speaking after the race on Sunday afternoon.
“Once I overtook him I was able to maintain the same speed than the front riders, but not improve the speed. So in the last laps I didn’t have the best feeling on the bike, it was a shame but anyway, we will try to do something more in Valencia.
“Before the race, on the first laps, I wasn’t thinking at all about the Championship,” admitted Mir, but after struggling in the final exchanges with his front tyre, the GSX-RR rider settled for a podium.
“I was just thinking to give 100%. But then when I saw I was struggling a lot on the last laps with the front, I said ‘ok maybe it’s not a good idea to try catch those riders.’ Clever way to manage the race today and let’s think about the next one.”
Six riders, three races, 32 points. Mir is in the driving seat to hand Suzuki their first title since 2000 as Valencia starts to appear over the horizon, but that can all change in a flash. Mir is confident the Suzuki can go well at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, however if this season is anything to go by, we have to expect the unexpected.
“I don’t know. I don’t know how the bike will work in Valencia. The only thing is that, well in Austria I didn’t expect to be as fast as I was and you know what happened. Let’s see how the bike works, I expect it to be a good track for us but in this season you never know.”
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