With 13th time set on Sunday, Joan Mir ended the Portimao tests as the first of the Honda riders, 16 thousandths ahead of teammate Marc Marquez. A result that was the … result of the improvements made by the Majorcan in adapting to the RC213V, but which also highlights the fact that there is still a lot of work to do at Honda to catch up with the best.
“We managed to make further progress in adapting to the Honda. I still have to learn and adjust to a lot of things, because it's a new bike and some aspects still don't come naturally to me. We approach the first races with the desire to continue improving and to see what we can do,” said the 25-year-old.
A big challenge for Joan who, in addition to unlearning the automatisms acquired in four seasons with the Suzuki, must also get to know the character of the Honda and how to make the most of its V4. Precisely one of the reasons why the 2020 World Champion struggles to do the renowned hump of Portimao well.
“I think it's more a question of the character of the engine than anything else. You have to get used to handling the acceleration. You have to be very precise and know what you want to do. The torque delivery of this bike is completely different from that of the Suzuki and this makes it difficult for me to understand when to open the gas - explained Mir - When you've been used to something for years you need some time, but in the end it went better. I had less wheelie and was able to manage it better, but we have to understand because we wheelie a lot there, while with the Suzuki I had no problem. We have to work on it, because every time you wheelie, with these wings, you lose lift and it's difficult to put the wheel back on the ground."
Among the aspects on which to intervene is certainly the management of the clutch at the start, which this weekend gave the Honda riders more than one headache.
“With this clutch it is very difficult to be precise. Sunday went better than Saturday which was a nightmare. The second test was a disaster, but the first and last were a bit better. I think all the Honda riders are complaining and we will have to work on it, because we will have two important starts over the course of the weekend" underlined the Spaniard, then going into more detail about the lack of automations with the Honda which is affecting him.
“Memorizing everything is a nightmare, because you have to do a lot of actions. You have to adjust the front device, set the launch control, check that everything is ok and then start. On the Suzuki I had everything in a different way and now it's complicated to change, but it's only a matter of time - he explained - It will probably be automatic in the fifth race, but now I have to control everything".
Giving the Majorcan more comfort and hope in this adaptation process is the presence in the pits of a well-known face like that of the new technical director Ken Kawauchi, Joan's point of reference at Suzuki.
“Seeing Ken in the box gives me confidence. We have achieved some incredible results together and to have him on this project is great. It's something I'm very grateful for, because I think he can do a great job, like he did at Suzuki - said Mir - We both need some time to settle in, but we're on the right track".
With so many things to think about during the tests, the Honda rider said he was unable to work as well as possible on the time attack and on the simulation of the Sprint Race, the big new feature of this 2023.
“In the end I did a time attack, but I don't think the bike had the right setup to do a real time attack. I attacked more than I should have and it's not the right way to do it, because with this bike it's risky and I crashed on Saturday - he explained - On Sunday we focussed on some details, while on Saturday I did eight consecutive laps but with used tyres. which are not the right ones for the sprint race. I managed to lap at a high 1'39" pace, while with the new ones it's a low 39", so we're not too far away. We must be optimistic."