Joan Mir is the reigning MotoGP champion but in his eyes there is only one clear favourite for the 2021 season; Marc Marquez.

However, that of course depends on when the Repsol Honda rider can return to full fitness.

The six-time MotoGP champion hasn’t raced since last July's Jerez season-opener, when he fractured his right arm after an incredible recovery from 19th to 3rd.

Fresh from surgery, Marquez attempted a shock return the following weekend, but withdrew at the start of qualifying after problems with the arm. The titanium plate subsequently broke while at home, requiring a second operation, but the bone failed to heal.

That necessitated a third operation, including a bone graft, in December and Marquez continues to undergo antibiotic treatment for the infection that caused the earlier healing problems.

Yet to sit on a motorbike, it seems unlikely the #93 will be fit for testing in early March and serious doubts remain over whether he can return in time for the 2021 season-opener, scheduled at Losail at the end of the same month.

"It’s true that when Marc won the title for the next year, he was the favourite," said Mir, when asked if, as reigning champion, he feels like the favourite for 2021. "This year inside of me I'm the man to beat, but probably I'm not the favourite.

"I think that I have to show much more to be the favourite. It's true that last year we won the championship not by speed, but by consistency and being clever.

"I also think that the margin I have to improve my speed is probably [bigger] than other people with more experience. So we have on paper good tools to defend the title, but I don't feel I will be the favourite. I will be the man to beat but not the favourite."

So who do you think is the favourite?

"For me the favourite, if he comes back at 100%, is Marc. He is the favourite. He has more experience than me, more titles, more speed and he's the man to beat. If you remove Marc, I don’t see any favourite. Probably it's me, in that case.

"But with Marc on track, it will be Marc."

Mir began last season without even a podium and fought back from two non-scores in the opening three rounds to eventually claim Suzuki's first premier-class title since 2000, despite failing to qualify on the front row of the grid!

"I'm looking forward to this year and to try to show more, to enjoy more and to be a better rider. That is my goal for this season. If I'm able to repeat the title I will be super happy because at the end it's what everyone wants," Mir said.

"The goal is that one, but inside of me I want to be better. I don’t care about the championship, okay at end it's the important thing, but I want to be better.

"I want to start to make pole positions, I want to win more races and then if I'm able to do that, [as we saw last year] I'm already consistent. So let's try to improve in those areas."

The only Suzuki rider to have won the 500cc/MotoGP title more than once was Barry Sheene, in 1976 and 1977.

Mir will announce on Febrary 12 if he will race with the #1 plate on his Suzuki this season.