A Suzuki rider is finally on the top step of the championship, after Joan Mir was crowned this year’s MotoGP world champion. This also ends Suzuki’s 20-year rider championship title drought. The last Suzuki rider to win a rider's championship was Kenny Roberts Jr.
Joan Mir of team Suzuki Ecstar was crowned champion after six podiums and a victory in the European GP. The Spaniard is 29 points clear of Yamaha’s Franco Morbielli, taking the championship title. A seventh place finish defended to the final corner assured him of the crown. This feat has also made him the first Moto3 champion to win the premier class title.
It is clear that consistency played a crucial role in winning the title for Mir, as he only won 1 race this season. It was a hard fought battle. He took the lead in championship points thanks to 7 podiums, desptie having zero fastest lap recognitions.
“It is something I have been fighting for all my life, since I was 10 years old,” said Mir. “I had this dream on my mind and I didn’t stop until I got this title, so what can I say? I didn’t expect it honestly because I expected it in the future, but we have the title and it is ours!”
Red Bull Rookies
Mir’s path to glory began in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2013, where he took a podium as a rookie. The Spaniard ended that year second overall after a number of wins. In 2015, a full season in the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship awaited, where he came fourth overall but took four wins and a further three podiums, fighting for the title to the end. Late that same year, Mir also made his debut in the Moto3 World Championship – qualifying in fifteenth and then fighting for sixth. Mir crashed out, but had already made an impression.
He joined Moto3 full time in 2016 and immediately began to impress: scoring points first time out, getting a top five in his third ever Moto3 race, and then a first victory in Austria saw Mir ending the year fifth overall and as Rookie of the Year. That made Mir a firm favorite for the title the following year. He didn’t disappoint, coming out blazing in 2017 to take the first two victories of the season.
In 2019, Team Suzuki Ecstar offered Mir a shot at the MotoGP. First time out in Qatar, number 36 impressed on his debut and took eighth before some tougher races followed. In Mugello, he was back in the points in 12th, and at Catalunya, he took sixth to begin a run of solid top eight finishes. That streak ended at Brno with a crash. The Spanish rider had also crashed at the post-race test in the Czech Republic, subsequently side-lining him from the Austrian and British Grands Prix.
Upon his return at Misano, Mir started scoring again and ended the year without a further DNF, taking a best result in his rookie year of fifth in Phillip Island and setting him up for a sophomore year at the front.
In 2020 pre-season testing, Mir – and Suzuki – had many talking as the Hamamatsu factory put in some impressive performance. But fast forward a few months to Jerez, competition had re-started and the duo had a tough first outing as Mir crashed out in the Spanish GP. It was soon followed by Mir taking fifth to get some points on the board, but Brno saw another DNF, denting his title hopes.
From Austria onwards, however, everything came together. A first MotoGP podium in second place prefaced an impressive performance in the Stryian GP before the race was red-flagged with Mir in the lead. He ultimately took fourth. The Majorcan bounced back with three podiums in a row in the San Marino, Emilia Romagna and Catalan GPs. He was gaining traction in the Championship before another tough race in Le Mans briefly halted his momentum as Mir took 11th, lacking experience of the conditions.
With key rivals Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) also fighting in the fringes of the top ten though, all was far from lost.
MotorLand was up next and Mir was immediately back on the podium, taking two third places. With the first, he also took the Championship lead, and arrived into the Gran Premio de Europa as now the clear favorite for the crown – but there was something missing.
That something was a first MotoGP win which, despite getting close, the Spaniard had not yet taken. That changed as the premier class headed out to race in Valencia for the first time in 2020 as Mir put in a sublime charge to the flag; cool, calm and collected to take a valuable 25 points and a MotoGP winner’s trophy – putting him 37 points clear heading into the penultimate race weekend of the season.
It was a tough Saturday as he qualified 12th but as the lights went out for his first match point, Mir soon got to work to move into the top ten and then the top eight. He only needed a handful of points as his closest challengers ended up off the podium. Mir kept it calm and collected to assure himself the crown, taking seventh place and was eventually crowned the 2020 MotoGP World Champion.