No prizes for guessing who tops Crash.net’s MotoGP Rider of the Year rundown as Suzuki’s first title in 20 years earns Joan Mir the top spot here too.
Much ink has been spilled with regards to Joan Mir’s remarkable run to the 2020 MotoGP World Championship in only his second season of premier class grand prix racing and, in fact, only his fifth season in GP racing full stop.
But even now well over a month on, you still need to pause to take stock of Mir’s achievement. That said, perhaps a 1000-1 unexpected title winner was just what this unconventional and unpredictable 2020 MotoGP season deserved.
It seems a disservice to say Mir’s title win came because he cranked out the results with such consistency he was able to win with just a single victory to his name, but in a short season and such fine margins for error, that is exactly the weapon a rider needed in their armoury.
As much as the likes of Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins or Andrea Dovizioso could have sneaked the title had some key moments gone their way, Mir’s winning margin could have been a lot bigger given he started the year with two DNFs from the opening three rounds and then saw his hopes of a maiden win scuppered by a red flag in Styria.
Critically, the latter Austrian event was a turning point for Mir though, instilling a sense of belief in him and from here he became a stealthy, yet ever present feature in the upper echelons of the races. The podiums began to tally up and they were headlined by some tremendous race day efforts, the product of an average starting position of – incredibly – just ninth place.
Passing Alex Rins and Valentino Rossi on the final lap at Misano assured Mir of Suzuki team leader status and grabbed the attention of the world in one swoop, to the extent thereafter he was now being mentioned in the same breath as potential title winners.
As rivals went backwards for various reasons, Mir maintained forward momentum until finally breaking his duck in Valencia, a victory so well timed he could be a comedian on the side.
Mir’s title wouldn’t have been possible, however, without his trusty Suzuki steed, which saw the incremental improvements on the GSX-RR come together for 2020. A machine that has always been promising if somewhat flawed, for this year it could keep up down the straights yet rival a Yamaha in the twisty bits (in the races at least) and maintained its tyres.
So while Mir and Suzuki may not have been many (or anyone’s) pick for the 2020 MotoGP title, few would begrudge them arguably the most unexpected victory in history…