Championship leader Joan Mir admits he doesn’t know why he struggled so much in qualifying for the MotoGP Valencia Grand Prix, after managing just the 12th-fastest time.
The Suzuki rider found decent one-lap pace in FP3 and was able to secure direct passage into Q2, while his nearest title rivals Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins had to go into Q1.
Quartararo would only qualify 11th, with Rins – both of whom are trailing Mir by 37 points – 14th and Mir’s 12th failing to capitalise on this.
When asked why he struggled in qualifying, Mir replied: “I don’t know, it’s strange. I don’t know what happened because my feelings with the bike were super good, but then in qualifying something changed.
“I didn’t have the same grip and we can see that the bike was spinning [the rear wheel] a lot more. We know the conditions were different, but the people were able to make good lap times. So, it means the track was in good condition, but not for us. It’s strange, I don’t know.”
Mir came through from 12th on the grid at the Teruel GP to finish third. He would only need a top 10 result on Sunday to be crowned champion should poleman Franco Morbidelli – who is 45 points adrift in the standings – win the race.
But the Suzuki rider admits he won’t think about his title hopes until he knows what his feeling on the bike will be in the early part of the race.
When asked by Motorsport.com if he could be relaxed over his qualifying, given his nearest title rivals are close by, he replied: “From that point of view, yes. But I don’t think so much about that. I think Franco is really strong, also about the race pace. He already showed a super good potential in FP3 and FP4.
“And in qualifying he was ready to make a good lap. So, probably, I’m one of the few riders that can fight with Franco if nothing happens. But I start really far back, so this for sure is a problem for me to fight for the win.
“I will try to give my 100%, and then on the race I will see where we are and in that moment I will start to think about the championship. My feelings will decide if I prefer to stay inside the top 10 but not better, or I want to go for a podium, which at the moment is what I want.”
Mir admits he is feeling added pressure this weekend with the championship nearing, but this is “not a bad thing”.
“Of course, it’s difficult, because it’s a different weekend and you can feel it,” he said. “There is a lot of media pressure. I try to stay calm, but it’s true all of us fighting for the championship feel the pressure more because this is going to end quickly.”
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