Joan Mir strengthened his MotoGP title lead with third-place in the Teruel Aragon race, meaning he will take a 14-point advantage over nearest rival Fabio Quartararo into the final three rounds.

The Suzuki rider is yet to win in the premier-class but frequent podiums (six) have carried him to the top of the table after the likes of Quartararo, Maverick Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso failed to finish on the rostrum in either Aragon round.

Mir insists he's not focussing purely on the world championship and maintains it would be a mistake to change tactics now.

However, he did admit the title situation was probably a factor when calculating the balance between risk and points, once he realised race leaders Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins were out of reach last Sunday.

"I think now more than ever it would be a big mistake [to change strategy]," said Mir.

"But we have to be fast and always when you try to be fast you take risks. You can make a mistake. The important thing is to find a balance for that risk.

"For example, in this race I thought that I was able to catch the riders in front, but then I saw I was not. So why continue pushing, risking a crash, if I already know that I can’t win this race?

"We don’t have to think about the championship in some moments. Like in the first laps, I was not thinking at all of the championship. I was just thinking about doing 100%, all that I was able to do.

"But then [later] there was a moment that maybe, yes, I thought about it.

"I saw that my feelings on the bike were not the best ones, and I was not able to recover the distance with Rins and Franco, I had some big moments and I said maybe it’s better to stay here.

"So it’s finding a compromise.

"I will not change strategy. I will continue like that, just giving 100% and always finding the compromise between risk and points.

"As the finish of the season gets closer, we have to be even more clever and do this compromise in a better way, always."

Although three rounds remain, the Spaniard believes the upcoming Valencia double-header could all but decide the title outcome.

"For me, Valencia will be really important to be competitive and strong. I think that is when we can decide a little bit the championship," Mir said.

"Not because it will be done, but more because after Valencia will only remain one race.

"For my health [stress], I would like to have things, not done, but almost done [at Valencia]."

Aragon 2 winner Franco Morbidelli, now up to fourth in the standings (-25 points), was the only rider in the title top five to gain any points on Mir in either Aragon round.

The pressure is now on Quartararo and Vinales (-19 point) to fight back at Valencia. Otherwise, should Mir's current rate of gain over his nearest rival continue at the same rate as the Aragon weekends, the championship would be in the bag before Portimao.

It's not the first time Mir has fought for a title, having won the 2017 Moto3 crown, although on that occasion he was title leader from round one.

"In Moto3 I remember that we start the first race winning and we’ve been always managing the pressure," said Mir, who only replaced Quartararo at the top of the MotoGP table after Aragon 1.

"This time it’s different. I feel of course the pressure is always the same, but it came to me a bit later [this year] because also it’s a bit different. There are a lot of riders that are able to fight for the championship. In that case you cannot make any mistakes.

"In Moto3 I had a lot of distance with the second rider. I was almost didn’t care about mistakes. Here I probably care a bit more to do mistakes. This is something that I cannot make.

"But like I said, we have to find a compromise between being fast and being constant."

Mir's championship position is all the more impressive given that he scored just 11 out of a possible 75 points in the opening three rounds of this season, largely due to two DNFs.

But everything changed, mentally at least, after he took a debut MotoGP podium in Austria.

"I was fast at the beginning but I was not able to find that luck to be on the podium and fighting in the good positions," Mir said.

"In Austria, I made some click in my mind unconsciously. Not on the bike, just on my mind. I don’t know how and why, but since Austria I feel a lot better on the bike, a lot better here in the championship. This was the key."

Team-mate Alex Rins, who has taken Suzuki's only win of the season so far, is sixth in the world championship and 32 points from Mir.

Suzuki has not won the premier-class title since Kenny Roberts Jr, in the former 500cc class, in 2000.

 

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