Joan Mir is to move up to MotoGP next year, and will be racing in the factory Suzuki Ecstar team for at least the next two season.
The signing had been widely expected, as the name of Mir had been linked to Suzuki for the past month or so. The Spanish youngster is highly rated throughout the MotoGP paddock, and been pursued by Honda and Ducati, as well as Suzuki, according to his manager.
Mir has been chosen over both current rider Andrea Iannone and veterans Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo had been linked to the ride since early this year, but in the end, Suzuki bosses back in Hamamatsu, Japan preferred to go with youthful potential over an established star. Alex Rins, who will be starting his third season in MotoGP, is regarded as experienced enough to lead the development of the MotoGP project at the start of next season.
The signing of Mir puts Suzuki in a similar position to the one they found themselves in with Maverick Viñales. Viñales was then the hot young rider pursued by one and all, who impressed enough people at Suzuki to be snatched away by Yamaha once a seat there became available. There are unsubstantiated reports that Suzuki have put a mechanism in place to protect themselves against a similar situation developing with Mir, should he meet with the same kind of success Viñales did. In effect, Mir's deal with Suzuki could end up being closer to four years than two.
With Mir filling the second Suzuki seat, all of the factory seats in MotoGP are now taken. Attention will now turn to the Petronas SIC Yamaha project, and how quickly (or whether) that gets off the ground.
Below is the press release announcing Mir as a Suzuki rider:
JOAN MIR TO DEBUT IN MotoGP WITH TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR FOR 2019 AND 2020
Team Suzuki Press Office – June 11.
Suzuki Motor Corporation is happy to announce Joan Mir as a factory rider in MotoGP with Team SUZUKI ECSTAR for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, partnering Alex Rins aboard the Factory GSX-RR.
Joan Mir is a young talent (20 years old) from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, who has already shown excellent skill and competitiveness in his riding, both in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes. The two-year agreement will allow the Spaniard to debut in the Top Class after only one year in the intermediate class, lining up alongside the already confirmed Alex Rins in the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR garage.
Mir debuted in the World Championship in 2015, at the Australian GP in the Moto3 class, and raced in the same class for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Despite being a learning year for him, in 2016 he managed three podiums with a first, a second and a third place, but most importantly he got the necessary confidence to be absolutely fit and ready the next year to fight for the title. And he did, indeed, succeed: ten victories, two second places and one third place for a total of 13 podiums (with 1 pole position) gave him 341 points and the crown of 2017 Moto3 World Champion.
In his debut year in Moto2, where he is racing now, he has already achieved two podiums (both with third place) in Le Mans and Mugello a few weeks ago and he is currently 5th in the standings.
The signature of Joan Mir as partner to Alex Rins is a matter of continuity in Team Suzuki’s philosophy of continuously searching for young talents to welcome and help to grow. After two years of experience with the GSX-RR and a contract of two more years ahead, Rins can honestly be considered a pillar of the MotoGP project for Suzuki, and his experience will be useful also to the young Joan Mir to get acquainted quickly with the team, the machine and the class.
Shinichi Sahara – Project Leader:
“As a Team we have always tried to look forward to long term development plans, which includes also making some bets on young riders that we feel can be an investment for the future. We did it in our debut year in 2015, we did it again in 2017 when we signed the debutant Alex Rins, who has been confirmed also this year, and we are further confirming this with the agreement with Joan Mir. He is a young talent we would like to see grow and help us to grow the GSX-RR and the team with him. He is now involved in the Moto2 class and we definitely want him to enjoy the championship, but we are also eager to start working with him and see him debut in the top class. We believe in his skills.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Joan Mir is only 20 years old now, already a World Champion with an impressive 10 wins last year and he has already proven several skills. He is fierce, he is witty, he is nice and he can be very fast. All the characteristics that we like to search for in a young rider, who wants to join us not only for the prestige of a factory machine in the top class but most of all because he believes in our racing project. Talking to him I realised how much he has a clear mind, how much he liked our Suzuki project and wanted to join us. This has been a great boost for us. Of course, we know very well that he will need time to gain experience and grow with us, but we have full confidence in his potential. Suzuki management encouraged us to pursue the ‘young rider philosophy’ and with Joan I think we found the perfect protagonist for this role. With Alex and Joan we have two very talented riders and our target is to create a strong Team for the future.”