On 28 March, Joan Mir will line up at the Losail track in Qatar as current World Champion. His goal will be to defend the title won last year with Suzuki, during what was one of the strangest MotoGP seasons to date.
The Majorcan is keen to start and comments: “I’m having a very good pre-season. I’ve trained a lot with the bike, as much as possible, and have been in the gym a lot too. I’ve basically never stopped since the championship finished, taking only a one week holiday. I’m trying to be fully prepared, mentally and physical, for the start of the season”.
Complete faith in Suzuki
His only week of vacation was ‘ruined’ by a call from Davide Brivio: “I was totally relaxed on Tenerife and was shocked when he told me he wouldn’t continue with us, I thought he was joking. When I realised it was true, I also realised that we have competitive people in Suzuki who will manage the situation in the best way. And this reassured me. He himself told me about the Formula 1 project, and that he was leaving a team that works really well, and he’s right. Davide has a lot of charisma and I’ll miss many things, we’ll definitely miss celebrating good results with him, because he was a real part of Suzuki’s success”.
As current world champion, the Majorcan will need to decide whether to race with his usual number, 36, or opt for #1, and he comments: “Well, 1 isn’t a number I can choose whenever I want, while 36 is the number I’ve always used since coming to the world championship. I’ve won two titles with it. But it’s a number I’ll always have and that I can always choose… so I’ll leave you with that…”
Marc Marquez’s return
But he doesn’t think of himself as the favourite: “I’ll be the rider to beat but we didn’t win the title due to our speed but with our consistency and the fact we were the smartest. We have a good chance to defend the title, but if Marc Marquez is on track he’ll be the favourite. He has more experience than me, he’s quicker, he’s won more titles”.
As for the eight-time champion’s physical condition, Mir comments: “If he were another rider, I’d have no doubt that he wouldn’t do well right away and that he might need a season to get his feeling back, but he’s the exception in my mind, due to his eight titles. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was fighting for the win in his first race back”.
As for his own goals, Joan has clear ideas: “I want to win the title again, but also score pole positions and win more races. I want to improve my qualifying and start-of-race performance". And to do this, he hopes for a better bike: “The key will be having a more competitive package. It’s to our credit that we won the title without ever really being on the front row. So if we can do it, we can be more consistent and fight for the win right from the first race”. This, essentially, is what was missing in 2020.
Translated by Heather Watson