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MotoGP Dutch GP

Why Mir’s “priority” is to remain with Honda despite two years of MotoGP misery

The 2020 world champion is set to stay with Honda for two more years and has opened up on why he is leaning towards this

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Reports by Motorsport.com saying Joan Mir is set to stay with Honda in MotoGP for two more years came as some surprise given the misery of the past two seasons.

To say the last three years for Mir have been brutal would be something of an understatement.

The 2020 world champion was nearing renewing with Suzuki, with whom he won the title, early in 2022 when the Japanese brand made its shock decision to quit the series at the end of that year.

It forced him into signing for the factory Honda squad for the 2023/24 seasons, stepping right into the fire as the competitiveness of the RC213V hit its nadir after an already tricky couple of years following Marc Marquez’s final title win in 2019.

Numerous injury woes forced Mir out of five grands prix last season and he ended the campaign with a meek tally of 26 points.

This marked the worst points tally for a full-time Repsol Honda rider ever in the modern MotoGP era. Previously that dishonour belonged to three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who managed just 28 points in his sole year with the team in 2019 before retiring (Stefan Bradl’s 27-point haul in 2020 is not being considered for this stat, as he was drafted in to replace Marc Marquez after breaking his arm in round one).

Things have not improved at all in 2024, despite concession regulations brought in to help the struggling Japanese manufacturers.

Mir is currently 18th in the standings on just 13 points, achieving a best GP result of 12th. He is the top Honda rider in the championship, four points clear of LCR’s Johann Zarco whose best result is also 12th. Team-mate Takaaki Nakagami is a point behind, while Mir’s team-mate Luca Marini is yet to score after seven rounds.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Mir has crashed seven times this season already (having done so 24 times across 2023), while Honda has spent much of the year chasing its tail as the engine characteristic it found in pre-season testing led to “unexpected” problems. Thus, not much development has actually been done to address the bike’s poor grip and handling.

Prior to the rider market bursting into life at the Italian GP, the signs were that Mir was facing retirement rather than carrying on. That’s changed.

“The priority has been that one [to stay with Honda] for one year ago or something, because it’s true that I’ve been unlucky to be part of probably the worst moment of Honda in history,” Mir said on Thursday at the Dutch GP.

“Also, I still have the feeling that if I leave I will be failing in this project because when another rider in the past left this project, he was with some good results in the past and it’s not my case. I don’t have good results with this team and I will have a different feeling if I leave. So, the priority at the moment is that one. Of course, the decision is not done because we have different options to do. But the priority is that one.”

Mir spoke last year that during his lay-off with injury following a crash at the Italian GP that he considered retiring, but that fear of failure kept him motivated for the challenge ahead. When Marc Marquez announced he’d be leaving, Mir stepped up to sound himself out as the leader HRC should be throwing its weight behind.

Though the results have been lacking, his stablemates have expressed on numerous occasions in 2024 that Mir has been the only Honda rider to be able to improve the pace threshold of the bike from Friday through Sunday.

So, losing him would be a big blows for Honda. The same can’t be said for the other way around, though, with a rider of Mir’s calibre deserving of much better than what Honda has currently delivered.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

But he is convinced by what Honda has been working on and the direction it is going.

“I think what is coming is going to be better,” he noted. “I don’t know if it will be the step to be with those guys [our rivals], because every time we improve the others improve. We never reach that potential. But it’s true we will get closer, I’m sure about this.

“And the direction they want to take is very interesting. This season we’ve been a bit unlucky because with one engine character that looks like it was pretty good in Sepang test then started giving us some unexpected problems. We had to come back, the engineers had to work on that and not on developing. We lost a bit of time there.”

Mir didn’t comment on what direction Honda is going on that has brought him enthusiasm and it won’t be lost on him that Yamaha – who has brought a new engine for the Dutch GP – has been developing and testing at a faster rate than HRC.

There is also the element to consider that Mir’s options outside of Honda are limited, certainly when it comes to the financial package Honda can offer compared to the few remaining teams left without firm line-ups.

Mir is taking something of a leap of faith, as the next big upgrade isn’t expected until September, though he told Spanish media at Assen that it is a risk to hold off because he could find himself without a seat.

In some ways, then, Mir’s back was against the wall. But given how bad his stint at Honda has been, a decision to retire would have been more understandable than a two-year commitment to the Japanese marque.

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