Joan Mir Interview: On His Hard Road To MotoGP, Burning Brightly But Briefly, And Coping With Crashes

It has been a pretty tough couple of weeks for Joan Mir. After a frustrating sixth place at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, in which he complained of struggling with the front, on the day after, at the end of the Jerez test on Monday, he was called in to the office in the Suzuki Ecstar team truck to be told be Shinichi Sahara and Livio Suppo that Suzuki had decided to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of the 2022 season.

Two weeks later, after a difficult day on Saturday, where he found himself struggling in FP3 and having to go through Q1, Mir ended up crashing out of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans while chasing a possible podium. "It's been painful mentally," Mir said after the race on Sunday.

Can Joan Mir bounce back? At the Circuit of The Americas, I spoke to Mir about his past, and the road he took to MotoGP. It was a long, hard, and uncertain road, the possibility of failure lurking every step along the way. Mir had to bear a heavy burden of responsibility, one he shouldered largely through his own choice, rather than outside pressure. Along the way, he had to deal with plenty of setbacks, and turn them into something positive. That path helped him to win the 2020 MotoGP championship.

Q: Going back through your history, and some of the things you said on the Amazon Prime series and also in the championship press conference after you took the MotoGP title in 2020, I remember you talking about how difficult your path was. You didn't come from a rich family, with enough money to pay for everything, so you had to earn your way to each next step, achieve a log more to keep going.

Joan Mir: Yes. I remember that, that time with a lot of intensity, because yeah, it's not that we are poor at home, but but we are normal, you know? My dad worked a lot, he always woke up early, and then he was back at home at nine o'clock every day. And then it's difficult to start in this motorcycling world, just paying for the training sessions, because everything is so expensive. You have to buy a bike, and then I put in a lot of hours with that bike.

And then every six months more or less, we have to change that bike, and this means money, and tires and oil and petrol and crashes. Track time. And this doesn't look like it, but it's a lot of money. A lot of money. An extra of more or less €3000 Euro? And it's not easy to find that, no?

So for a period of time, I saw the sacrifices that my father was doing. Because my mother was always more focused on the school, and my father on the motorbikes, on my professional career. So he always was really stressed, I saw him really stressed trying to move forward from that difficult period, and trying to get the money to be able to train and everything.

And apart from that, normally people pay a team to ride with them. And this is impossible for us. This is something that we could not even think about, you know? So that was pressure for me, because the only way that I had to continue was being the best, because maybe the rider who finished second was already paying. So if I'm second, I cannot pay. I cannot be second, I need to win, no?

In the year in the Spanish PreGP championship, before the GP, you know, that time was difficult. Because yeah, I had no option, I only could win with probably not the best bike and probably not everything. I had to show something more to progress and to take like a scholarship in Spain to continue. To continue at that time was the Cuna de Campeones. That was that, like a scholarship, that if you win, you do the next category, then the next one, and the next one. And this was the way.

Then, when I was in the maximum category of the Cuna, the only way was the Rookies. So then I moved to the Rookies Cup. I was so small at that time, SO small, and and those bike were pretty big. I didn't have the experience of the other guys, who were doing the Rookies Cup, the Spanish championship, and all of these other series. I was only doing the Rookies, no? And to pay for the travel and the training, my father was a bit like this [puts thumb under his chin to show being at the limit]. That was pressure.

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Mir is a very direct person as you can see from the way he answered these questions. With respect, some of the questions were leading and he was quick to shut them down if he disagreed or had a different take on what transpired. This kind of personality can rub some people the wrong way but you have to respect it.

I see many similarities with Stoner in that regard. Neither of these guys were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and the fight from the very bottom gives them a giant chip on their shoulder that again, you have to respect. It's the end result of when your career progression is only measured in results, not the deep pockets of your family and/or ability to get major sponsorship. You can see it in their eyes and their lack of tolerance for people that just don't understand what it took. They command respect and if they don't get it - you'll know about it in short order.

The media hate it. Their peers admire it, and at the end of the day they don't give a **** what you think either way.

Thanks, David. Been free riding for years and planned to subscribe when my outlook brightened and I could justify a totally discretionary purchase on top of the already expensive MotoGP VideoPass. Skipped the VideoPass this year. Decided to take out a subscription today to read this because I see a lot of my own struggles in JM's and his dad's journeys. Figured maybe I'd find something here I could use in an especially challenging time. I appreciate you and your work. Thanks!