Joan Mir is your 2020 MotoGP champion, thanks to a season of (mostly) steady riding.
Mir, riding for the Suzuki factory squad, sealed the deal at Valencia on Sunday, finishing seventh. That’s hardly the stuff of legend, but it was enough to boost him to 171 points, beyond any other rider’s reach.
The next-closest rider is Franco Morbidelli, aboard the Petronas Yamaha, with 142 points, then Mir’s teammate Alex Rins, at 138 points. The race next week in Portugal wouldn’t allow either rider to get past Mir.
Marc Marquez has dominated MotoGP for the past few years, thrashing the competition aboard his factory Honda, but a crash in 2020’s opening race wrecked his right arm. Combined with shoulder injuries suffered in previous seasons, Marquez’s injury ruled him out of the championship.
From there on, Yamaha satellite rider Fabio Quartararo (also with Petronas—what a year they’ve had!) appeared ready to take control of the series. But, a few crashes and some mediocre finishes shuffled him down the pack. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso also appeared ready to step up, but again, he just couldn’t hold it together. Mir, on the other hand, picked up steam as the season went on. He started with a couple of DNFs, but then got on the podium, and finally had his first MotoGP win at the first Valencia race.
At that point, the peanut gallery was full of comments about Mir possibly winning the title without even winning a race, so surely that win helped him rest a little easier and was a slight poke back at the detractors. Not that Mir doesn’t deserve the title; he was the 2017 Moto3 champion, and was solid in his 2019 MotoGP debut season.
Mir’s success (and Rins’ success, too) are fantastic news for Suzuki, especially as it’s the company’s 100th anniversary, and its 60th anniversary in the racing world, and 20th anniversary of its last MotoGP title. For the past few years, the Japanese manufacturer has seemed stuck in the doldrums. The only truly new bike it’s released in North America in the past decade is its GSX-R1000, and the company’s return to MotoGP racing in 2015 actually seemed a little odd. But now, though, Suzuki’s on top of the world, with its factory MotoGP team sitting first and third in the championship—and possibly, first and second after next weekend’s racing.