Joan Mir: “Different bikes, engines… At the moment I cannot choose”

'We have the bike of Valencia [test], and we have a new prototype... Last year's bike is not here!'

Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 2 February
Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 2 February

Joan Mir began his 2024 MotoGP track activities with two bonus days of testing at this week’s Sepang Shakedown.

The bonus is due to the new concession system, which allows Honda and Yamaha race riders to take part in private tests this year, including the Shakedown, before joining their rivals at the Official test from February 6-8.

Mir set the sixth fastest time at the Shakedown, just 0.328s behind Pedro Acosta (GASGAS).

“For sure this is a big help,” Mir said of the extra track time. “Honestly, it feels great to be back on these machines, it's crazy how fast they are!

“It's true that the rain in the afternoon during these two days was a bit of a shame, because we had some more things to try. But anyway, I think we made positive days. We tried many things, it's crazy!

“We have to understand a little bit the direction we want to take, because we tried different bikes, different engines, and different characters.

“At the moment I cannot choose one, this is the reality.”

Pressed on exactly how many bikes he has this week, and whether the troubled 2023 Honda is among them, Mir replied:

“Last year's bike is not here. I don't know if it's in Japan!

"But we have the bike of Valencia [test] here, and we have a new prototype.

“Two different bikes. ‘Bike 1’, even compared to Valencia [test] is slightly different. And another one [Bike 2]… with a different engine character.

“So we have more things, more engines and more stuff, but [only] two bikes.”

“At the moment we couldn't get all the potential from this second bike," he added. "So let's see if in the next three days we make more steps forward.”

But as new team-mate Luca Marini also confirmed, rear grip remains an issue.

"It's better. In Valencia we made a step but it's still one of the weak points. Because it looks like the bike is more powerful but the spinning is still there. So it's one of the areas where we must work, and I think that with all the specs that we have, we can make it better."

Advanced aerodynamics is one of the most eye-catching changes at Honda, which now visibly resembles the pace-setting European bikes. But the factory is playing catch-up.

“You could see that the aerodynamics are not like last year, when it was almost none,” Mir confirmed. “They started to work on it. They are still small compared to the others, it's true. But we are making some steps. Trying to understand also for me.”

That’s because the GSX-RR Mir raced before joining Honda also generated very little downforce.

“I don't know how much we can do with aerodynamics, because the Suzuki was not the best bike in terms of aerodynamics. And last year this bike was also not the perfect machine in terms of aerodynamics,” said the 2020 world champion. “So we are trying to understand many things.”

Impressed but not surprised by the scale of changes at Honda, Mir is keeping a lid on expectations after a miserable debut season on the RC213V.

“I know what Honda can do. And I expect a lot from them. So I'm not surprised. But it's true that this winter they worked more than probably last year. So we could see a lot of changes inside the team, inside of Honda, and I think that they want to move on from this situation. This is what I see," he said.

“But one thing is what they want, and the other is to make it work. All the other manufacturers have worked super good for a lot of years, and they have a lot of information that we probably miss.

“This direction [with the bike design - longer wheelbase, lower centre of gravity, with lots of aero] we are following now, they have been following for three or four years, or even more. So we are in that process, making good steps, but again, I feel not ready for the first race yet.

“But I see big changes, and this makes you feel more motivated. Because if we arrived here and had a similar package to last year, you can imagine how the motivation can be.

“So this makes me feel powerful and confident for the beginning of the season.”

New team-mate Luca Marini was eighth quickest on the final day of the Shakedown (+0.746s).

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