What will it take for Joan Mir and Suzuki to become 2020 MotoGP World Champion?

A podium finish - something he has achieved in seven of the last nine races - will see Joan Mir win a shock 2020 MotoGP title in Valencia this weekend

It’s had more twists, turns and jumps than a lap of the Mountain Course on the Isle of Man TT but the 2020 MotoGP World Championship appears to be homing in on its - one would say ‘shock’ - title winner as Joan Mir prepares to serve for his first match point at this weekend’s penultimate Valencia round.

While the stats sheet of nine different winners from just 12 races goes a long way to explaining why this has been a season unlike any other, the man standing on the cusp of history has shown extraordinary mental fortitude against mounting pressure despite being by far the least experienced of the pretenders.

Having blocked out all notion of a title win until he actually won a MotoGP race, Mir broke that duck in formidable style in Valencia last weekend, which fittingly coincided with difficult races for his nearest competitors.

As such, though six riders remain in range of title mathematically, Mir’s suddenly huge 37 point advantage puts him in a great position to wrap it up with one round to spare.

In fact, ‘all’ he needs is a podium finish this weekend to do the deed, something he has achieved seven times this season already (seven of the last nine races), while coming off the bounce of a Suzuki 1-2 at the same circuit certainly bodes well for him.

Even then the odds are stacked in his favour when you consider his closest rivals - Fabio Quartararo and team-mate Alex Rins - need to win this weekend to stop a fourth place finishing Mir wrapping things up.

How did we get here?

Mir’s route to this position has been unconventional but no less impressive, his metronomic consistency creeping him into contention before giving him the edge as rivals - who may be faster in raw speed - made errors or were held back by unreliability, namely Quartararo and Yamaha.

While some could point to Quartararo’s inexperience for his fumbles at key moments, it’s worth noting Mir is quite a bit less seasoned than the Frenchman who has dazzled since his debut but looked limited by his Yamaha in other races. This is only Mir’s fifth season in GP altogether (two in Moto3, one in Moto2 and this being his second season in MotoGP).

In fact, his win in Valencia last weekend was his first since 2017 when he was on his way to the Moto3 crown.

The timing is impeccable and while one could tell Mir was getting frustrated by his failure to reach the top of the podium even as his title credentials became clearer, he’s turned it into a motivating factor, not a restricting one.

As a sign of that, when asked whether he feels pressure though, he humbly responded: “People who can’t pay rent, that’s real pressure. This is my job...”

We are fans of Joan Mir.

Suzuki: The underdogs on the verge of history

Few will begrudge Suzuki this title, which will be its first since 2000 and the first of the modern MotoGP era. However, such has been its form in recent rounds that even if Mir does bottle it, Alex Rins is probably the man most likely to benefit, having launched himself back into the fray with some brilliant results in recent races 

There was a time when Rins was being asked whether he’d help Mir to the title if he was called upon, but it was Mir that stepped in to say his team-mate isn’t out of the running himself so will not be looking for favours. He certainly called that one correctly.

Suzuki must be applauded for producing the most impressive of machines this year. With a smaller budget than most and no satellite team to double up its data, it’s focused on ensuring the GSX-RR handles sweetly, keeps up down the straights and is easily the most reliable bike out there. This would be a huge win for the plucky Japanese firm.

The sheer unpredictability of this year’s race means we’re loathe to call it a Mir-Suzuki title just yet, but even Quartararo needs victories in the final two rounds and hope Mir fails to finish both to have a chance, meaning the same goes for Maverick Vinales, Andrea Dovizioso and Franco Morbidelli, who have all shown flashes but nothing near the consistency they need to be considered realistic rivals.

People will attempt to point to Marc Marquez’s absence and a compacted season for what is a genuinely shock title winner, but strip out those lazy excuses and you’re left with a (probable) title winner that is by far the most deserving of this accolade in 2020.
 

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