There is plenty to talk about when it comes to the 2021 MotoGP season. This includes Joan Mir who, if you have forgotten, is the defending champion.
It feels as if the majority of headlines have focused on the factory Ducati riders, the factory Yamaha riders, the future of Valentino Rossi and the return of Marc Marquez. These topics along with others such as the passing of Fausto Gresini and the form of Aprilia gives the feeling that Mir has gone ‘under the radar’ a bit so far in 2021.
Yet the Spaniard has quietly gone about building another solid championship challenge this season. The Suzuki rider having finished in the points in the opening four races of 2021. Not only has he finished in the points, he also hasn’t finished any lower than eighth so far this season. This initial four race run also includes a podium finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix and narrowly missing out on a visit to the rostrum in the season opener in Qatar.
It is quite a contrast to how Mir began his championship winning season last year where he had two retirements either side of a fifth place finish before eventually claiming second in the first race at the Red Bull Ring.
By the time the premier class had completed four races in 2020 Mir had amassed 31 points and was 36 behind then championship leader Fabio Quartararo. Compare that to this season where the Spaniard has scored 49 points and enters the 2021 French Grand Prix 17 points behind current championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.
It is worth remembering that Mir was perhaps fortunate that last season’s championship was so open. This is less the case in 2021 where Yamaha have won three of the first four races, which arguably should have been four out of four were it not for Fabio Quartararo’s arm pump issue during the Spanish Grand Prix.Embed from Getty Images
Yet despite the apparent dominance of the factory Yamahas so far this season, and in particular that of Quartararo, 2021 has seen three different race winners (the same as in 2020 at this stage) across two different manufacturers, compared to the three different manufacturers last season. It is also worth mentioning that there have been four different championship leaders so far in 2021.
It is therefore slightly remarkable that Mir is only 17 points behind the championship leader at this stage of the season. Especially when you factor in the strength of the Ducatis of the works and Pramac teams, as well as the difficulties Mir has had with the Suzuki in qualifying.
There is a feeling that were Mir able to qualify better during a Grand Prix weekend it would make the Spaniard a bigger threat during the race and therefore increase the chance of him finishing on the podium or claiming the race victory.
The lack of a victory in 2021 appears to have already been a question posed to Mir by members of the media. Something that the Spaniard doesn’t seem to be too worried about. Neither should he when you consider he was challenging for and won the championship in 2020 and nearly went the entire season without winning a race.Embed from Getty Images
After the double header in Austria in 2020 Mir would go on to finish on the podium in six of the remaining nine races that eventually made up last season, that run including his sole victory in Valencia.
With all of the above in mind it makes Mir’s start to the 2021 season come across as silent, but deadly. Especially when you consider that venues such as the Red Bull Ring, Misano, Montmelo, Aragon and Valencia, all of which Mir performed well at in 2020, are still yet to come in this season.
Other riders and teams may end up occupying more of the headlines across the remainder of 2021, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all were Mir to go about building another championship challenge through silent, but always deadly, consistency.