“That’s my man!”: How Mir’s perfect pitch won Suzuki MotoGP deal over Lorenzo

"I want to go to Suzuki, because for me it is the motorcycle that adapts to my style" - How Joan Mir won Suzuki deal over 3x MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo

Joan Mir - Suzuki Ecstar

Joan Mir’s smartly chosen words to develop into a title-contender with Suzuki  was the key decider in landing a deal with the outfit for the 2019 MotoGP season at the expense of Jorge Lorenzo, ex-team boss Davide Brivio has revealed.

Mir stepped up to MotoGP for the 2019 season after only a single season in Moto2 and only three grand prix campaigns in total, before going on to clinch a wholly unexpected title victory with Suzuki in 2020.

Indeed, while his recent success means it is easy to forget Mir’s age and relative experience at this level, to have gotten the nod over a rider like three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo as a rookie was alone a remarkable achievement. 

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In an interview with MotoGP.com, Brivio explains Suzuki had an option on Lorenzo to join Alex Rins for the 2019 MotoGP season but that it also had an eye on Mir, who while lacking the esteemed experience of his countryman was showing signs of promise another manufacturer could have snapped up.

With management torn between the two wildly differing options, Brivio has revealed Mir’s approach to pitch for the ride ultimately earned him the seat over Lorenzo, who went on to endure a miserable single season with Repsol Honda before retiring altogether.

“The idea of trying another young man like Rins was conceived. Vinales, Rins… let's try another we thought. We began to think of Joan Mir, because winning the Moto3 championship with ten victories caught my attention.

"During that time we also had the option to sign Jorge Lorenzo. So in the end we had to chose between Lorenzo and Mir. But it was not a choice between two riders, but not a choice in philosophy and the direction we wanted to take, going with a veteran rider like Lorenzo, or developing a young talent.

"The more we got to know about Joan, the more he seemed like someone special. He liked Suzuki but his manager told me there was a problem because he had an option with Honda. So then I asked him directly, 'Are you interested in Suzuki regardless of the Honda option? If you had to choose between Suzuki and Honda where would you go?'

"And he told me: 'I want to go to Suzuki, because for me the Suzuki is a motorcycle that adapts to my style'. And when he told me that, my eyes lit up and I thought, 'he's the right man!'"

Suzuki wanted Johann Zarco but chose Alex Rins

Going on to discuss the various rider signings by Suzuki since its MotoGP comeback in 2015, Brivio sheds some light on decisions to put faith in the up and coming generation, such as Maverick Vinales, Alex Rins and then Mir.

Regarding Rins - who has won three races and finished third to champion Mir in 2020 - Brivio says Suzuki had originally agreed a deal with Johann Zarco as he romped to a second consecutive Moto2 title, ahead of Rins.

However, the decision was taken to sign Rins, a move that looked erroneous in 2017 as Zarco shone on the Tech 3 Yamaha instead. Since then though their fortunes have somewhat diverged, with Brivio saying its punt on Rins has been justified.

"We agreed a contract with Zarco while he was racing in Moto2. So during his last season in Moto2 he was under a Suzuki contract. We had to choose between Zarco and Rins, who was also emerging as a talent. It was a very difficult choice but in the end we settled on Rins. 

“This caused a lot of criticism during 2017 because Zarco went to Yamaha with Tech3 and was very strong. He was getting podiums while Rins, who was unlucky [with injuries], was in trouble. The results in 2017 were very disappointing [but in 2018] the Rins project was working well, the talented young man was growing."

Brivio - who has now left Suzuki on the back of its 2020 MotoGP title win to join the Alpine F1 Team - goes on to reveal it almost signed Andrea Dovizioso for 2015 and says Suzuki had made up its mind to target Maverick Vinales for 2017 after his first two Moto2 race outings.