Joan Mir is the new MotoGP world champion. The 23-year-old Mallorcan rider made history this Sunday at the Ricardo Tormo circuit by winning the title just five years after making his debut in the championship. Although he came out from 12th place on the grid, the Suzuki rider managed to take the crown in the penultimate event of the year, in Cheste, thanks to a seventh place for which he sweated the unthinkable. And that the 37 points that separated him in the classification of Quartararo or Rins, the 45 that distanced him from Morbidelli, who came out from the pole, made the path easier for him.
Rational and intelligent. Skilful. The privileged boss. To keep your feet on the ground. To prevail in the most difficult times, as he did a week ago, when he finally got his first victory in the category and began to appease the critics, those who watched his season with suspicion. For him, he assumed his environment, this triumph was “like an exorcism.” Freed from all this tension, Mir planted the MotoGP crown for his perseverance and regularity in a year marked by covid and a very hard season physically and, above all, mentally, by the accumulation of races, zero rest, and the fear that the disease would leave one out of the game. A championship that has created a generational change led by the boy from Palma, with the permission of Marc Márquez, the big absentee this year.
In this transitional season in which the athletes lost the reference of 93 on the track and which has seen up to nine different drivers win races, Mir has barely needed a win to take the title, less than anyone so far, since Hayden, in 2006 he added two wins. He has never been the fastest driver. Yes, the most reliable.
In a year of lows – controlled spending, limited staff, with a schedule with 14 grand prizes instead of the 20 initially planned and no audience in the stands – in which it was vital not to fail, the Suzuki driver was gaining confidence step by step a pas. Until obtaining in the circuit Ricardo Tormo de Cheste to close the circle. On the same stage where he began to compete with other young talents, in the Cradle of Champions, one of those promotional cups that have given such good results to Spanish motorcycling, Mir culminated a fantastic season in which barely he has been off the podium since he first climbed it – this is only his second season in MotoGP – in the fourth race of the year, in Spielberg.
He did not have an easy career ahead of him. Going 12th on the grid is not the position someone wants to play in a World Cup. But as we have already seen that the classification Saturdays were not his forte – not even a ‘pole position’ in his box in the queen category – much less that of the sweet Suzuki, and he has passed the course of comeback on comeback, he took it (or tried it) as if it were one more Sunday. It is clear that, on this occasion, he barely climbed a few positions, aware as it was that there was little enough to put the noose on the championship. He risked the fair. He did it especially in the first bends, when he managed to climb a couple of places.
The falls of Zarco or Nakagami, who rolled in front, helped him gain positions without falling apart. That of Quartararo, one of his direct rivals, who made a mistake in the first bars of the test and ended up on the ground, began to clarify unknowns in the equation. Discarded from the fight Viñales and Dovizioso, who were rolling behind him, so complicated was for everyone the weekend in Valencia, not even Rins, finally fourth (a victory of his would have forced him to be, at least, sixth), seemed estart in disposition to complicate things to him.
But the Mallorcan is not one of those warm-blooded athletes. Rather the opposite. Nor was he moved by the fact that one of his direct opponents, Morbidelli, marked the step forward at the pace of captain-general. Unchanged his chrono back to back. Magnificent tempo control. Exceptional was his firmness when Miller, insatiable, threw himself upon him, when he sought his interior on the first bend on the last lap; great maneuver to regain first position in the second turn. The Italian made everything perfect. But even that wasn’t enough to ruin Mir’s year.
The lad was carrying his homework. He was left with that tenth position in which he was already rolling on the first lap. So he kept calm at all times. There were so many possible combinations, so many rivals that could mathematically water down the party, that he wanted to rely on his ability to improvise to solve the problems he encountered on the court. And he found no more difficulty than the very pressure of being fighting for the title. 27 laps, no matter how short the Cheste circuit, are many laps. “I’m very tired. I have suffered a lot “, he revealed at the end of the race.
Mir thus culminates a round year for Suzuki, one of the most modest factories in the championship, which this year celebrates its centenary and which for 20 years did not see one of its proclaimed champions. Kenny Roberts Jr., in 2000, was the last winner of the Hamamatsu house.
Moto3 champion in 2017, the title in the queen category places Palma’s in the group of elected members that included Alex Crivillé, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, the last Spanish champion and the big absentee of the season after injury -is on the first date at the Jerez circuit.