Suzuki’s Joan Mir says he “feels amazing” after finally securing his maiden MotoGP world championship with a run to seventh in the Valencia Grand Prix.
The Spaniard only had to finish within the top ten if pole-man Franco Morbidelli claimed his third win of the season, while closest rivals Fabio Quartararo and team-mate Alex Rins had their work cut out to reduce their 37 point deficit below 25 to keep their title chances alive heading to the final race after qualifying only 11th and 14th respectively.
With Rins only able to recover to fourth while Quartararo crashed out early on, the seventh position he claimed after 27 punishing laps was enough to secure the crown-Suzuki’s first in two decades- after Morbidelli won the contest after fending off a late challenge from Jack Miller.
Mir collected seven rostrums across his stunning sophomore 2020 campaign-including an important first victory in last weekend’s European GP-a total that is nearly twice that of any other rider across the season, allowing him to secure the championship with a round to spare despite retiring from two of the first three races this year.
A relieved Mir after the race said he would need “another couple of hours to fully understand the situation”, adding his gratitude to the Suzuki squad that offered him a chance in its crack line-up following a tough maiden Moto2 campaign in ’18.
“This feels amazing, I can’t believe it,” said Mir.
“I will need another couple of hours to fully understand the situation, I’m currently a bit in shock after a year with a lot pressure here and at home to make sure I didn’t get the coronavirus.
“It’s unbelievable how we managed the situation, and finally we get the title in my second year with Suzuki, I can’t express my words what this means for me because it’s impossible.
“Suzuki gave me the opportunity to be world champion, so I’m so happy to be able the guy to bring Suzuki back on top 20 years later (since last title).
“When I saw the board with ‘world champion’ I said ‘this can’t be happening’, and then I started to cry.”
Mir explained the extreme pressure he was put under all season not just to perform on track, but also at home to not catch Covid-19-something that could have ruled him from title contention after Valentino Rossi and Iker Lecuona both had to skip two races while recovering in self-isolation.
“It was really difficult, the thing nobody mentions that was so tough and tricky to understand is the pressure you have here at the track goes away at home because you can disconnect,” continued the world champion.
“This year I couldn’t disconnect at home because of the pressure of trying to not get the coronavirus, and this made the situation much more difficult.
“Being consistent in every race (was also hard), always being on the podium, I don’t want to mention this race because I struggled the most all year and I had to risk more but we have the title so I don’t care about the race.”
Mir reflected on a conversation he had with Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio while competing with Marc VDS in Moto2 at Jerez in ’18, saying he was “already sure” about joining the project before the Italian tried to convince him.
“I remember the conversation I had with Davide (Brivio, Suzuki team manager) at Jerez in 2018 about this project, and he was trying to convince me but he didn’t need to because I was already sure beforehand,” added Mir.
“I wanted this project with Suzuki to get to the top because it’s even more tricky to make it but now with one title with this brand makes us even better, they’ve done a great job every year so congratulations to them.”