This time tomorrow, Joan Mir could be celebrating becoming a MotoGP world champion and Suzuki’s first title winner in 20-years.
The Spaniard holds a commanding 37-point lead heading into the penultimate race, but twelfth on the grid after being last in Qualifying 2 wasn’t part of the script.
“My day was not bad. I improved my pace and potential. I’m quite happy about that,” Mir said. “But in qualifying, I don’t know what happened.
“I felt a little like yesterday in FP2. I don’t understand why I didn’t feel the correct feelings to push and I was not able to make one fast lap time.
“I didn’t have the same grip and we can see the bike was spinning more. Conditions were different but people were able to make good lap times. For us it was strange, I don’t know.
“It’s a shame, but the important thing is we have pace. We’ve started from this position a couple of times. I don’t like the position but it’s not the end of the world.”
“Yes, but I don’t think so much about that,” Mir insisted.
“I’m thinking that we have Franco [Morbidelli on pole position] looking really strong, also for race pace. Probably I’m one of few riders that can fight with Franco but I will start really far back.
“It’s a problem to fight for the win. I’ll try to give 100% in the race, see where we are and in that moment I’ll start to think about the championship.
“My feelings will decide if I stay in the top 10 or I want to go for the podium.”
Much will depend on how many places Mir can gain in the first few laps.
“The first laps will be crucial to understand what position we are in and decide what we want to do,” Mir said.
“I’ll try to recover as many positions as I can and then if I’m in a good and comfortable position I’ll start to think about the championship. But before that, I will try to recover many positions.”
Mir’s mental strength has been second-to-none this season but avoiding a final round title showdown is now his top priority.
“Of course it’s difficult. It’s a different weekend. So I try to stay calm and do everything normal,” he said.
“The truth is that we all know the pressure is more because this [championship battle] going to end quickly; it’s going to finish in one day or next weekend.
“We can feel the pressure. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s true that I want to finish quickly. “
A title lead of 26-points or more will ensure Mir is champion on Sunday.