Joan Mir has been riding out the global lockdown in Andorra, where he and other world-class racers such as Fabio Quartararo, Pol Espargaro, Maverick Vinales and Team Suzuki Ecstar teammate Alex Rins have been bashing out the laps on the principality’s humble Circuit Andorra de la Casa circuit. Located at 2,500-meters of elevation, it’s been on the Circuit Andorra where Runs has been whipping himself back into Grand Prix racing shape.
“I’m here in Andorra and I’m happy, because we have recently started to use the bike,” he says. “We have one track that is 2,500 meters and quite tight, and we start to train a little bit with the Supermoto bikes. Today, though, is another story. Today was about waking up and going to the gym. Now, everything is much easier to do, so we’ve been staying busy here. It’s been good.”
Nobody has ridden a MotoGP bike since the Losail test in late February, where Mir finished up sixth, one spot ahead of Marc Marquez, in combined timing. Realizing the potential to be heading back to the starting grid at Brno in August, Mir has been fast at it.
“Yes, this was very important to know; that a potential race date was coming, for the motivation,” he says. “If you train, but you don’t know for what reasons you are training for, you don’t train in the same way than if you are motivated and pushing yourself. Now, we have a date, the 9th of August from what I am told, and I think this is really good news. I was a bit frustrated because here in Andorra everything happened so slow. In Spain, they opened the tracks and started to open up everything much faster than here. I saw all these other riders wanting to train here in Andorra, and all of us, as a group, we started saying, ‘Well, what is happening here? We cannot train.’ It was very frustrating, but now it is different and we are training hard.”
As with other professional motor racers the world over, Mir has been forced to find other ways to burn time off the clock when he’s not riding or training. Just don’t ask him to ride a stationary bike.
“Normally, I don’t like to a static bike or indoor bicycle because it’s really boring,” muses Mir. “But then two weeks ago, I was able to train with a Trials bike with some of the top guys. I was having a lot of fun because this was something really technical, you know? It’s really important to have an opportunity like this to work on throttle control, and brake control, and everything like that. It was a good thing to start with a bike like this, because if we start on the MotoGP bike after two or three months of doing nothing, it could be dangerous. In this case, it was very good.”
Twelfth in the 2019 MotoGP standings for Suzuki and impressing the team all along the way, Mir recently signed a new deal wit the Japanese motor company to race for them through 2022.
“I think Suzuki has a really good package, because Alex is a top rider with experience,” he says. “You know Alex is always going to be there and fighting for a top five position, for sure. As far as me, I was a rookie last year. I am pushing hard and I’m starting to get top five positions now, so now it looks like everything is getting better. Now I am not a rookie anymore and I have started to push a little bit more, and if I am pushing Alex, Alex is pushing me, then we gain speed and elevate our level and this is something really important.”
Highly-regarded for its chassis, the 2020 Team Suzuki Ecstar works GSX-RR has become quite a weapon in the MotoGP wars, and a newer, stronger engine and allows Mir to take more of a point-and-shoot approach on tighter turning circuits.
“Yeah, it’s a good bike and always improving,” Mir says, citing the motorcycle’s enhanced grip and tractability. “And this is something that I really like about Suzuki. For example, in the preseason tests, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, they brought the new 2020 bikes straight away. Suzuki, normally they don’t bring the new bike. They bring some new specs and they are normally good, so it is a big improvement and really important. Testing went really good. Our target for the 2020 season is really good; our package is really good. We are really close to being at the level we want to be at.”
Exactly how that translates into his hopes and goals for the truncated 2020 season is another question.
“Well, if you asked me this question after the test in Qatar, I’d say to you that I am ready to fight for the victory or for the podium right from the first race of the season,” he explains.
“Now, after two or three months without the bike, I do not know; I don’t know the position of where we will be at. Normally, I think that we can get good and positive results. I think the podium is really close and that we can be fighting to be on it. When you get on the podium, you always repeat. You know that you can repeat this result. For example, in the 2017 season in Moto3 for me, it was my second year in the classification and I won a lot of races (10) and I won the championship. It will be really, really difficult to do this in MotoGP, but I hope It will be something similar!
“Normally, if you look at the past, all the riders need one year or one year-and-a-half to understand these bikes. It looks easy, but it’s not. You have to understand how to ride the Suzuki, and for that reason, I’m really happy with the potential we showed last year.”