Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir has a longer than expected wait before hitting the track at Termas de Rio Hondo for this weekend’s Argentina GP.
With the schedule condensed to fit all free practice and qualifying sessions into Saturday’s running, after the paddock’s cargo failed to arrive to South America from Indonesia in time for Friday's action, the MotoGP riders have a challenge on their hands. It’s a prospect made tougher by the championship’s two year absence and limited use of the Argentine facility.
“Here we are living a strange situation and as a rider we have to stay focused,” Mir explained from the Termas paddock. “To don't think a lot about these things and pray to have a great Saturday!
“We are living a difficult situation in the world and we are also recovering from two years COVID and these things I think that can happen now in these hard times. As a rider we have to do our job, to rest tomorrow and to try to be ready on Sunday.
“Is a track that can suit our bike, in the past the bike got one podium and this is something great,” he continued on his GSX-RR’s prospects this weekend. “Also, the fact that there's only one day to clean the track means that we will not have the track at 100 per cent. So this is something that we know clear that will be like that. I didn't make one lap already to check the track and everything but I expect that the track will be dirty.
“Two years without activity is a long time. FP1 will be important to get the feelings then clean a bit the track and to put the bike a little bit for FP2, to find the better conditions, better grip and to try to attack for a lap time but I expected that in FP2 the track will be not perfect.
"It will be like this, if we have luck and everything is how the scheduled says, it will be the same for everybody. The things that we cannot control, we don't have to lose energy with that, so we have to stay focused.”
With only one prior experience of the 4.8km Termas circuit on a premier class machine under his belt, Mir is aware of how different 2022 will be from his last visit - in what was only the second race of his 2019 debut season.
“Checking the data is when you see that the way that I was riding is really different to the way that I'm riding now,” the 2020 World Champion admitted. “Because it was my second race, also this track it was a little bit critical, because the grip is so low, you have to find well the lines to find well the grip, to control well the throttle. So I was riding in a different way so means that straightaway, we know that we will be a lot faster than on that year. But also the bike is different, we have different engines, so I expect to perform well here since the first moment. But it is never easy to find straightaway the line and the set up and be faster straightaway. This is what we will try to do.”
With a shortened weekend schedule, tyre choice on a suboptimal track surface will be more important than ever.
“Well, we have here like in every race three compounds,” Mir explained. “About the front we probably know all tyres, and about the rear probably we have to make a great Saturday to try all of them and to see which one performs better. Also watching the times of our rivals and what they will try, what they not. It will be interesting!
“We have a lot of sessions on Saturday but only on Saturday. So we have to make a great plan.
“One thing that is true is that in FP1 you try one tyre with a track dirty. Then you don't understand a lot with that tyre because yeah, you make a lot of laps because the spin, because there is no grip and then you think that this tyre can be the good durability, but then is not a clear or is not a true image and you need to reaffirm so it will be important the plan.”
The break in action provides a little breathing space for the riders to take stock, with Mir admitting he is in negotiations for his MotoGP progression, but not yet ready to announce whether his future lies with Suzuki, as it has for the past four years, or elsewhere.
“About my contract, we still have no news yet,” he confirmed. “Hope to have news soon but at the moment we don't have it. I expect to say something on my future soon, yes!”