Suzuki’s Joan Mir says he took a “clever” approach during the latter stages of the Alcaniz Grand Prix after realising he wouldn’t be able to challenge the leading riders.
Having started from a lowly 12th after struggling for qualifying speed on Saturday, Mir made a lightning start to find himself fifth on the opening tour before dispatching both title rival Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco to move himself into third across the opening segment of the contest.
The MotoGP championship leader soon found himself unable to do much about leader Franco Morbidelli and team-mate Alex Rins though, so decided to play it safe and secure his sixth rostrum of the year ahead of all his main title challengers.
The ’17 Moto3 world champion says the “great job” he was able to execute in the early tours of the encounter was key to extending his points advantage over his closest foes, though rued the time loss trying to pass Zarco’s Avintia-run Ducati.
“It was a tough race, it’s never easy to start from 12th,” explained Mir.
“I was able to make a good start and do a great job at the beginning; I lost a bit of time with (Johann) Zarco as he was quite strong on the brakes, which made him really difficult to overtake, also with the power of the Ducati.
“Once I got past him I was able to maintain the pace of the riders in front but not find any extra (to catch them), then in the last laps I didn’t have the best feeling on the bike which was a shame.”
Mir insisted that he “was not even thinking about the championship” ahead of the second event at the Motorland Aragon venue, but conceded that he realised “it wouldn’t be a good idea” to try and stage an attack on the leading riders after taking third, electing instead to “focus on the next one”.
“Before the race I was not even thinking about the championship, I was trying to get myself 100% for the race,” added Mir.
“When I could feel that I was beginning to struggle during the last part of the race I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to try and catch the riders ahead, so I decided to try to be clever and manage the race and focus on the next one.”
Mir’s championship lead now stands at 15 over Fabio Quartararo after the Petronas SRT man failed to extract the same level of performance from his M1 as his Alcaniz GP-winning team-mate, while Vinales sits a further five points back.
Morbidelli’s win moved him to within 25 of the lead with just three races remaining in 2020, while Andrea Dovizioso’s chances of securing a debut premier class title in his last campaign with Ducati took a substantial hit after finishing only 13th, leaving him 28 points adrift of Mir heading to Valencia.