Story by: Peter McLaren Crash.net
With three rounds remaining, Suzuki’s Joan Mir holds a 14-point lead at the head of the MotoGP World Championship standings.
The only rider in the title top-six yet to win a race, Mir has risen to the top courtesy of more podiums (six) than any of his rivals during a wild season of often fluctuating fortunes.
But if Mir were to remain on top and without a win during the remaining rounds, it would be the first time in premier-class history that the title has been won without a race victory.
Since the inaugural 1949 season (when there were only 6 races in the world championship) no rider has won the premier class title without at least 2 race wins.
Nicky Hayden is the champion with the least wins in the four-stroke ‘MotoGP’ era, taking 2 victories on his way to the 2006 crown. Otherwise, all premier-class champions have had 3 race wins or more since 1952.
The most recent champion without a race win across all grand prix classes was Emilio Alzamora (now manager of Marc and Alex Marquez) during the 1999 125cc season.
Meanwhile, Suzuki won the 500cc title six times – with Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr – but has never been champion in the MotoGP era, which began in 2002.
Mir was the 2017 Moto3 world champion but hasn’t won a race since that season. The Spaniard had a nightmare start to this year, his second in MotoGP, falling at round 1 (of 14) in Jerez, then being taken out of round 3 at Brno.
But since Brno, he’s only finished lower than fourth place once, during the wet Le Mans race (11th).
While Mir hasn’t won in MotoGP yet, he was leading comfortably in Austria when the race was stopped due to Maverick Vinales’ accident. He finished 4th after the restart.
Team-mate Alex Rins has already proven that the 2020 GSX-RR is a winning package with victory at Aragon. Rins was injured at round 1 of the season, but also still has a mathematical chance of the title, being 32 points behind Mir with 75 points up for grabs.
Suzuki has won five races so far in the MotoGP era (Chris Vermeulen 1, Maverick Vinales 1 and Alex Rins 3) but with no title since 2000, the factory will no doubt want all eyes on the main prize for the remaining rounds.
After all, at the age of just 23 and with a Suzuki contract in place until the end of 2022, Mir will surely have plenty of opportunities for race wins. But leading the MotoGP standings with three rounds to go might be a once in a lifetime chance…
Source: crash.net Image: suzuki.com