Joan Mir: I was never able to go into 'attack mode'

Suzuki riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins went into the season-opening Qatar race tipped as favourites by many of their MotoGP rivals.
Joan Mir, Qatar MotoGP, 5 March 2022
Joan Mir, Qatar MotoGP, 5 March 2022
© Gold and Goose

That perception only increased when both gained ground at the start, finishing the opening lap with Mir in fourth and Rins ninth.

Impressive winter work by the Suzuki engineers also saw Mir post the fastest speed of the race, a major boost to his overtaking hopes. But the GSX-RR's renowned tyre-saving capability unexpectedly deserted them.

While many riders also struggled with the soft front, it was a lack of rear grip that meant Mir could never get into 'attack mode' and faded to sixth. Rins crossed the line four-seconds behind him in seventh.

"[Like Rins] I also had front tyre problems, but I think everyone with the soft was struggling," Mir explained on Thursday in Mandalika. "In my case, the thing was that we had higher [rear] tyre consumption than we are used to.

"Normally, our strongest point is tyre consumption, and we weren't in our best moment in that aspect.

"We have to analyse and work on the bike to reduce that and to make a good end of the race. Because I couldn't go, in any part of the race, into attack mode.

"I was always controlling, defending, but I was never able to go into attack mode because in the first laps I was trying to be smooth and not make the tyre spin and that's why I didn't overtake and stayed with the group.

"But then when I wanted to go, I didn’t have anything left on the tyre, so it's important to analyse why… I think both of us [Mir and Rins] were quite similar on this."

The Spaniard feels the ride-height device (not present for Qatar 2021) and increased engine power are possible causes for the tyre wear, while solutions will come from "improving the electronics. And also the setting of the bike, to get a little bit more grip".

Rather than being frustrated at the result, Mir pointed to the extensive range of developments on the GSX-RR compared with the (winless) bike that began last season.

"In Qatar we finished with not the result we probably expected, but it's true that there's margin to improve this year," he said. "If we had another race in Qatar we would probably now get better.

"Last year, we were in a different position. When we finished those races, we said it will be hard to improve more. This year my impression is a little bit different, so it's important to understand a bit more about the bike.

"We just need a bit more information… I think we can fix it."

This weekend's inaugural Mandalika MotoGP won't allow Mir to exploit all of the Suzuki's new found top speed, with only a 500m rather than 1km main straight, but he expects several overtaking areas.

"First corner, then after the fast chicane - Turn 10. Last corner, no, but the one before (Turn 16), yes," he said.

Mir and Rins were 12th and seventh respectively during February's Mandalika test, both within half-a-second of the top. Since that test, the the circuit has been partially resurfaced and a different tyre casing selected by Michelin.

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