Entering the Olympus of MotoGP is always exciting and one of a kind. Joan Mir, reigning world champion, who knows the feeling pretty well, is ready to defend the title won last year on the Suzuki GSX-RR with the #36 on his fairing. It was a special winter for the Spaniard, but now it's time to get back on track for the very first pre-season tests. The aim is to fight for the top echelons of the standings, trusting in the progress made by the Hamamatsu bike (now without Davide Brivio), especially in qualifying.
What does the 2021 season look like after the long winter break?
"I’ve tried to prepare even better than last year. Physically I feel good, I have had time to rest and to train. I am enjoying this moment because I like the pre-season period and I can try hard to be as fit as possible. But I'm also eager to get started, with new motivations such as trying to fight for the title again and trying to ride as well as in 2020 ".
The start of the season was quite strange for the team when everyone heard that Davide Brivio was leaving, how did you get the news?
"I heard by phone, I was on vacation and I thought it was a joke! The truth is that I wish Davide the best because I have a special affection for him. At the same time, I am not worried about him leaving because I have full confidence in the team. I want to think that it will not affect anything because there are a lot of professional people in the team. Also, the top management of Suzuki are really brilliant people, so I feel comfortable. "
What sensations did you have during the winter break as a champion?
"You feel a lot of satisfaction for a job well done. But of course, this year will be more difficult. In 2020 the pressure was focussed on making progress as a rider and on consolidating my performance in MotoGP. Now I have to be up front, try to defend the title and fighting from the start. The goal is the podium at every race. Last year at this point it was enough for us to aim for the top 5.”
How did you feel after taking the title, did it give you a boost?
"I definitely did not feel drained, on the contrary, it gave me more energy. I had to take a vacation and get away from the bikes, the routine and everything that goes with it. It was the only way to rest. A lot of people around me felt pretty bad at the end of the championship, I think because of the hustle and bustle and the stress, but luckily I felt good. However I prefer not to spend so much time thinking about the title, I am already focused on 2021 and the next goal. I am very happy and satisfied with the work done, I made one of my dreams come true. But my desire is to keep looking ahead and win again in MotoGP. "
Why did you decide to continue with the number 36 instead of switching to the number 1?
"This is related to what I explained about looking to the future, I do not consider my work finished. One day I really hope to be able to use the number 1, but now is not the time. I am 23 years old and I do not think it is the right time. If one day I win titles like Márquez or Rossi, 8 or 9 times, if it is possible to achieve those things I would probably take it. The number 36 represents hard work, the number 1 represents showing off. I want to keep winning and fighting, it's something in my character, I don't want to relax or give up. "
What room for improvement do you have this year?
"I think there is still room for improvement, I'm still quite new in the championship, it's only my third year. The GSX-RR is getting better and better, the team has more experience and that should automatically turn into good results. We won last year with the package we had, which was competitive, so I think if we can improve the speed a bit to start from the second row it will make my job a lot easier and I can also be more consistent. "
What goals have you set for yourself besides defending the title?
"My main goal, and that of my team, is to improve our performance in qualifying. We already know that in the race we are fast enough. But if you start higher on the grid it is obvious that it is easier to fight for the podium or the victory. So we have to improve in that area, which is why I want to be focused on testing and be able to take a step forward. "
2021 will be a year with several team changes, who do you see among your biggest rivals?
"I think Morbidelli will be a tough opponent, but it is quite difficult to choose the main contenders. Marc, if he is well, will be the rival to beat for everyone, the same goes for my teammate Alex. We have to try to have both Suzuki riders at a high level and encourage each other, this will naturally improve the bike as well. I think in 2020 we both fought in every race as if it were the last one, giving 100%."