Mir slams Morbidelli for ‘not clever’ opening lap clash in Portugal MotoGP

Although Pramac Ducati rider Morbidelli started Sunday’s Portimao three positions ahead of Mir in 17th, a poor getaway dropped him into the clutches of his Honda rival through the opening sequence of corners.

As they battled for position, Morbidelli made contact with Mir in an incident not captured on TV, sending the Spaniard wide and dropping him to 21st position.

Although the factory Honda rider was able to recover to 12th place, aided by three leading riders (Francesco Bagnaia, Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales) crashing in the last three laps, he felt Morbidelli was simply too aggressive given the position he was running in.

“On the first lap I was there overtaking but quite on the position,” said the 2020 champion. “In that position you have to stay a bit calm in the first laps.

“This is the reality because it’s a big race and there are a lot of bikes in front of you and you have to be a bit clever, no? Morbidelli wasn’t.

“He just came to me. He hit me with a lot of speed. I went out of the track at Turn 8 and my race was a little bit compromised for this problem.”

Mir revealed that his Honda was heavily damaged from contact with Morbidelli, which affected both his braking as well as his stability through the corners.

“The rear part of the bike, the wing tail and all these things were gone,” he said.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“I didn’t have any one of them. Also the front wing was there but was shaking and moving a lot. Also the exhaust [was damaged].

“I was struggling without the wings, to stop the bike in Turn 1 was — wah! It was a challenge, also in Turn 5. It’s a shame that in the back nobody is filming, because it was far.

“I made a good weekend. I’m in good form. So let’s move to another one and hope that in the next one that riders on the back think a bit more on the first laps. That will also be safer for everyone.”

Morbidelli fell to the ground following the incident with Mir, but was able to remount on the bike and gain some crucial mileage on the Ducati to take 18th at the flag.

Mir feels Morbidelli didn’t deserve a sanction for the accident, as the crash was enough of a penalty for the Italian.

“Well, he crashed, no? So he was penalised,” said the 26-year-old.

“If not, yes. But because he crashed. He didn’t want to crash, he doesn’t want to crash. So this is the penalty that he got.”

Morbidelli, meanwhile, defended his riding when Mir’s views were put to him, downplaying his role in their collision.

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Racing

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“It’s part of racing when you are in the group,” said the Italian.

“I just went on the inside and we touched and then from then on I just went wide.”

Former Yamaha rider Morbidelli missed both pre-season tests in Malaysia and Qatar following a serious crash on a Ducati roadbike at Portimao in January, which severely compromised his preparations for his first campaign with the marque.

Still gaining crucial miles on his GP24, Morbidelli took positives from the race even as he ended up last in the order.

“We keep our learning curve with this bike and I can go home pretty satisfied,” the 29-year-old said.

“For sure results-wise not yet because in the race I made a mistake. I made a mistake in the start, I had a bad start and then I was caught up in a group and I went wide and I crashed.

“After that the race result-wise was pretty much gone, but actually the rhythm was very acceptable and was very decent.

“So that’s encouraging because still I need to learn everything and I need to get in tune with everything but already some things we are realising that are coming. So that’s positive. I just need to keep going in and I need to speed it up.”

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