Joan Mir says his unexpected 2020 MotoGP title win is made all the sweeter by the fact he did it via a 'brave' decision to join Suzuki and in a year of COVID-19 compromise
He expressed his sheer bewilderment at clinching the 2020 MotoGP World Championship title in only his second season of premier class competition after getting the job done with one round to spare in the Valencia MotoGP.
Though a timely maiden MotoGP win last weekend had moved the ultra-consistent Suzuki rider onto the verge of title glory over the final two rounds, he’d need just one of those to ensure he’d get to celebrate it on home soil.
Expected though it may have been in the moment, it was quite the opposite feeling coming into his sophomore campaign with a manufacturer that before today had to go back twenty years to recall its last premier class success.
With consistency proving the bedrock of a title win that was achieved with a meagre single victory and an average starting position of just ninth (8.7 to be exact), Mir admits he couldn’t have imagined becoming MotoGP this early in his career.
“It is something I have been fighting for all my life, since I was 10 years old,” he said. “I had this dream on my mind and I didn’t stop until I got this title, so what can I say? I didn’t expect it honestly because I expected it in the future, but we have the title and it is ours!
[When asked what he’d say if he was told he’d be MotoGP world champion in 2020 as he made his debut in 2019] “I say you are crazy! Race by race, year by year I was fast and getting used to the bikes quickly and this made my progression fast, which is the key to being in MotoGP winning the title in the second year.
Reflecting on his coronation race, Mir admits his run from 12th to seventh on the grid was reflective of the nerves he was feeling at that moment. He goes on to add that unprecedented pressure away from the track due to COVID-19 compromises adds another facet to his achievement.
“I looked calm and without pressure, but I was not calm and I was not without pressure. I was super nervous, but the truth is this year was difficult. We didn’t just have pressure on track, we had it at home to not get the virus, so it was especially hard to manage. Thank you to my crew who managed it in the perfect way.”
With the statistics demonstrating the unusual manner of his title run, Mir says his maiden podium in Austria - as well as his fight for victory in Styria - proved to himself he can compete at this level, even if it took until Barcelona for him to begin imagining himself as a title winner.
“In Styria, it was the race I was really competitive and fighting for victory but after Misano and Barcelona, that’s when I thought that maybe I am not just fast in Styris, maybe I am able to maintain this feeling with the bike. For me, that was the moment.”
A title that is as much to do with Suzuki’s meticulous development process with the well-rounded GSX-RR as it is about the man riding it, Mir says the ‘brave’ decision to join a relatively unproven manufacturer, rather than target the likes of Honda, Ducari and Yamaha via another season in Moto2,- makes his title win all the sweeter.
“We sacrificed a year in Moto2, normally I would do two years in Moto2 but the situation was this. We took the right decision to move to MotoGP.
“For me, to win a title with every manufacturer is unbelievable, that is the target but I was brave in that moment to go with Suzuki because I didn’t expect this potential on the bike in the second year. For me, to win with Suzuki means something more than normal.”