Mir “dreaming for a long time” about his Honda MotoGP switch

Joan Mir, the 2020 MotoGP world champion, says he has “been dreaming for a long time” to join the factory Honda squad.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

The Spaniard switched to Honda for 2023 after Suzuki, with whom he made his debut in 2019, elected to quit MotoGP at the end of last season.

Mir is the fifth rider in six years to join Marc Marquez at the factory Honda squad, with all of his predecessors dating back to Dani Pedrosa’s final campaign in 2018 enduring a difficult time on the bike.

Pre-season testing has been tough for Honda with the 2023 bike, with Marquez admitting on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix that the Japanese marque “is not a title contender”.

Mir finished up testing as the top Honda rider in 13th overall, though was still eight tenths adrift of world champion Francesco Bagnaia on the combined times.

He finished an encouraging second in opening practice on Friday morning.

Despite the challenge facing Mir for his first of two seasons with Honda, he believes he and the team “have done a great job” in improving the bike in testing.

PLUS: Can anyone stop "changed" Bagnaia as Ducati tightens its grip on MotoGP?

“To move to this team has been a big challenge for me,” Mir said.

“It’s something that I’ve been dreaming for a long time to be part of this team. Now we have to put all the effort in to try to make it work.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The winter has been tough. When you move to a different manufacturer with a bike that is completely different from the beginning, in MotoGP with this high level it’s difficult to find that last tenth.

“And this is what we have done, we’ve tried to be focused, to try to improve in every test. I would say we have done a great job, I’m happy.

“We always want more and to be closer to the top guys, but I think it’s part of the process.”

Mir, who still has just one grand prix victory to his credit from 2020, has tempered his immediate expectations ahead of the 2023 campaign, but concedes they are still “high”.

“When you put expectations, the most important thing is to be realistic, with the foot on the ground,” he said.

“We made a big change in my career and we will need, as has happened in the previous challenge [with Suzuki], I will need some time to get adapted.

“For me, the most important thing is trying to evolve race by race and day by day with this bike.

“Every day I feel better, feel more adapted to this bike, plus giving good information to the engineers to improve the package.

“So, to put everything together is not easy but the expectations are high. I want to finish the season on top and if we want to make that, we have to start by being not far [from the leaders].”

Previous article MotoGP Portuguese GP: Alex Marquez leads first session of 2023 season
Next article MotoGP Portuguese GP: Miller tops twice red-flagged FP2, Pol Espargaro airlifted to hospital