Joan Mir took a significant step towards what would become MotoGP title glory when he claimed a debut podium in the opening 2020 Austrian round.

The Suzuki star finished 1.377s behind Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso in the restarted event and was in contention to go one better the following weekend, leading the way… until another stoppage.

Mir was left a disappointed fourth at the restart, just 0.641s from victory, but had proven he had the speed to win, something he eventual achieved at Valencia.

The 23-year-old returns to the Red Bull Ring with three podiums under his belt this season, but still seeking his first win of the 2021 campaign.

The Spaniard's hopes could be boosted by the long-awaited debut of Suzuki's ride-height device, estimated to be worth up to 0.4s at some tracks, but either way Austria is a venue that holds fond memories for the #36.

“The Spielberg circuit brings me very good memories, as I won there my first World Championship race [in Moto3]," he said.

"This year I will try to qualify well and stay with the front group from lap one. We will see after practice what bikes and riders are the strongest, and then we will try to find the best possible strategy.

"I hope to be fighting for the podium positions. Last year we had two good races there and this year I hope we will be just as competitive as we were then.”

Mir starts the second half of the season holding fourth in the world championship, but already 55 points behind Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha).

But if Mir's championship challenge is in need of resuscitation, team-mate Alex Rins' hopes ended long ago.

Five non-scores in a row due to accidents and a freak cycling injury have left Rins a massive 123 points from Quartararo, yet to stand on the podium and just 15th in the standings.

Rins was also fast in Austria last season, only to fall while battling for the lead in the opening race, before salvaging sixth place in race two.

“I’ve been training all different bike disciplines during these five weeks, but nothing actually compares to riding in MotoGP!" Rins said. "The second half of the season will be busy with many races still to come, and I’m aiming to put the bad luck behind me and enjoy some good results.

"Personally, I really feel like riding the bike again, so a double [back-to-back] race is great for me. We will have to be ready and think especially on how to manage the second race, in which time differences [between the riders] will be even smaller.

"Austria is not an easy track but it’s quite nice to ride, I had a podium in the first season that we came here and I’ve had some other good finishes too. Let’s start racing again!”