Boxing clever and being consistent were the key to Joan Mir’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) 2020 MotoGP™ Championship winning season, and he is looking to adopt a similar strategy for his coming title defence.
Perhaps he is already employing the former tactic, engaging in an early bout of mind games as the Mallorcan was insistent in the fact that there is only one favourite with a fully fit grid, and that the rest of the pack only be playing catch up througout 2021.
“For me, the favourite is Marc (Marquez). He has more experience, titles and speed. He will be the man to beat. If you remove him, I don’t see a favourite, probably me, but with Marc on track, it is him,” said Mir of his Repsol Honda Team counterpart.
“I have to show much more to be the favourite. It’s true last year we won the Championship, not from speed, but through consistency and being clever. What is true is that the margin I have to improve the speed is not the same as others with more experience. On paper, we have good tools to defend the title, but I feel I am the man to beat but not the favourite.”
Marquez isn’t the only man gunning for the Champion, with Mir’s own teammate Alex Rins recently saying that he will do everything in his power to beat the Mallorcan. The Spaniard finished third in the Championship last season and has recovered from a shoulder issue sustained in Jerez last year, and Mir is fully aware of the threat that he poses on-track.
“He will be as strong as last season. He was injured in the first part of the season but then he was more and more competitive. We were fighting each other in every Grand Prix. Everyone makes mistakes, it is not easy to go a whole season without making mistakes. Crashes are part of our job and we have to manage the best we can do, and Alex did well to manage this. He will be competitive but not more, he was already really strong.”
The Hamamatsu factory narrowly missed out on a Suzuki one-two in the Championship standings last season, as well as the Triple Crown, and reports suggest that despite the exit of Davide Brivio, MotoGP™ Project Leader Shinichi Sahara is pushing hard to attain those targets for 2021, which is music to Mir’s ears.
“I was in shock when I first heard the news (of Brivio’s exit). Inside Suzuki we have really competitive people who can manage the situation in the best way. That is why I am calm. I’m not worried.”
“I am super happy to hear about that goal, to compete for podiums. It means they are pushing to make the team better than they had. They know it is difficult to win every year but for sure if we have that working mentality then we will be able to do it. I am 100% sure.”
Mir is also aware that if they are to complete successive Championship campaigns, then he too must up his performance acknowledging that the learning curve never stops.
“Whatever means improvement I am interested in doing it. Inside our team, we have what we need to improve our skills. And the data. I have a super-strong teammate to compare with.”
“I’m looking forward to this year to enjoy and show more and to be a better rider. That is the goal. If I can repeat the title, I would be super happy, it is what everyone wants. Inside of me, I want to be better. I want more pole positions, I want to win more races, so let’s try and improve that area.”
Now that he is coming into this season as a Champion, has his life changed in any way? Not really, apart from the odd person recognising him in a restaurant.
“When I go to a restaurant, people recognise me. It wasn’t like this before. In Andorra they recognize you, but they don’t normally ask for photos, but they do now. I can’t imagine in Mallorca but for sure life will change completely. The rest is the same. I train the same. When I do three minutes on a motocross bike I still have an arm pump. It is always like this”
GSeries: Mir and Rins' four wheeled dance under the snow
Now as one of the most recognisable faces in the sport, all eyes will be on him to see if he can bring back-to-back success to Suzuki in 2021.
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