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3 days ago
By motogp.com

Joan Mir: 2020’s not-so-dark horse

A third podium in four races now sees the Spaniard sit just four points off title race leader Dovizioso, and three behind a pair of Yamahas

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir is MotoGP™’s in form man. Two P2s, a P3 and a P4 in the last four races sees the Spanish premier class sophomore as the only rider with any real consistency at this stage of the season, hence his rise to P4 in the World Championship standings – just four adrift of title chase leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team).

In the last four races, Mir has picked up more points than anybody. The Suzuki star has claimed 69 points from a possible 100 compared to Dovizioso’s 53, Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 41 and Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) 24. The proof is in the pudding. Mir is hitting form at the right time in a Championship that is arguably the most unpredictable we’ve ever seen, and he’s swiftly become a title favourite.

The four aforementioned riders head to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Mir’s home race, separated by a mere four points. Suzuki and Mir have performed on tracks that don’t typically suit the GSX-RR in the form of the Red Bull Ring and Misano. Yet, without Viñales’ huge Turn 1 shunt in the Styrian GP, Mir was cruising to a maiden MotoGP™ victory. Nevertheless, a P2 and P4 from Spielberg was hugely promising. And then came Misano – two more podiums for Mir, but it could have been more.

 

P8 to P3, P11 to P2 – one week apart. Mir’s race pace is probably the best on the grid right now, he and the GSX-RR look so effortlessly in sync on track, but qualifying is an issue. If Mir had started on the front two rows, there’s no doubt he’ll have played his part in the Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Viñales battle at the second Misano encounter. Speaking in Sunday’s post-race Press Conference, Mir commented: “It was a little bit difficult at the beginning, honestly. Starting from 11th, a lot of riders in that position wanted to win the race on the first laps and it was a bit risky.”

Getting mired in the mid-pack in the opening stages has seemingly cost Mir two more bites at the MotoGP™ victory cherry, but he didn’t seem too concerned when sat just to the right of race winner Viñales.

“But anyway, when I saw that Pecco, Maverick, Pol and Fabio were a bit gone, I tried to focus as much as I could,” continued Mir, talking about his race. “In the middle of the race is started to feel good with the bike and I started to ride in a better way, then I started to recover the distance between them a bit. On the last laps it was so fun fighting with these guys. So happy for this P2, we are looking for a victory but it’s important meanwhile to score points and continue in this shape. And yeah, so happy for the team also.”

In 2020, consistency is more than likely going to win you the title. Mir has all the makings of a premier class World Champion: speed, aggression, nouse, consistency and a bike underneath him that is on song pretty much everywhere. The missing piece is qualifying – something Viñales and Quartararo aren’t struggling with. The latter commented over on the Adriatic coast that the Suzuki is “the perfect bike,” and the Frenchman is probably not far from the truth – but it showed that Quartararo is worried, just like everyone in the title race is, about Mir’s recent surge.

On his way to the 2017 Moto3™ World Championship – his second full year of Grand Prix racing – Mir was on the podium 13 times in the 18 races, a run that included 10 wins. Mir never finished off the podium for more than one race in a row at a time, a repeat of that between now and Portimao will probably hand Mir the MotoGP™ crown. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but the Mallorca-born rider is starting to show that sort of form.

 

Heading to Barcelona, Mir and his side of the Suzuki box are riding the crest of a wave. Last season, Mir notched up his second-best result of the season at the Catalan venue, a P6 that gave Suzuki a double top six finish, with teammate Alex Rins finishing P4. On paper, according to the number 36 himself, it’s a circuit that should suit the GSX-RR better than the Red Bull Ring and Misano. It that turns out to be the case, Mir will probably emerge from the first of three triple-headers as the title leader.

Mir is 2020’s not-so-dark horse. Tipping Mir for the title is now something a lot of people are doing, but this is 2020. With how the season has gone so far, anything can happen over the next seven races. All we can do is sit back, enjoy the spectacle and see who rises highest from what is already an unforgettable MotoGP™ season.

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