2020 champion Mir "can't wait" to battle Marquez in MotoGP

MotoGP world champion Joan Mir says he "can't wait to start to have battles" with Marc Marquez, but admits Suzuki needs to improve its speed to fight him

Mir ended a 20-year wait for Suzuki when he won the 2020 title with a race to spare in Valencia last month, having amassed seven podiums - including a victory - to win the championship.

He takes over the crown from six-time title winner Marquez, who missed the 2020 season owing to a broken arm he suffered at the Spanish GP.

Marquez's participation in the start of the 2021 season is in question following a third operation on his arm last week, which is likely to take up to six months to recover from.

Many have passed comment in 2020 that Mir's title win without Marquez present is in some way devalued - claims both riders have dismissed.

Mir says he is looking forward to battling with Marquez when he returns, but concedes himself and Suzuki have much margin to improve.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport in a special edition of the Tank Slappers Podcast last month, Mir said: "Well, for sure it will be really nice, I can't wait to start to have battles with Marc.

"The truth is we need to improve the speed with our Suzuki because we have a bike really balanced, but for sure it's not the fastest one and to beat Marc we need the fastest bike.

"This is really important. We won the title because I'm clever, but not because I was the fastest at the moment with this package.

"So, this means that if I was able to manage the pressure with this package, which is actually not the best one of the grid, talking about speed, if we get the speed and we start to fight a bit for the pole positions, victories in every GP, then I think we can fight with Marc for sure.

"I think we are one of the ones who has more margin to improve on the grid, because I'm not a rookie but I have a lot to experience and a lot to learn - probably more than the others."

Mir is the first rider since Wayne Rainey in 1992 to win the championship without a pole position, and never actually qualified on the front row in 2020 (though started third in the Styrian GP owing to a penalty for Johann Zarco).

Looking ahead to 2021, Mir admits entering the season as reigning champion does add pressure.

"Well, for sure it's pressure," he added.

"You win this title, but for sure for next year you have to repeat it. This is the goal, you cannot say 'no, let's see if I can finish in the top five'.

"Now you start with one title on your back, so for sure it will be important to repeat this result and also fight to repeat this result."

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