Last year's MotoGP top-two of Joan Mir and Franco Morbidelli head Jack Miller's list of riders to beat heading into the 2021 season, albeit in reverse order.

While Mir took a debut win on the way to delivering Suzuki's first MotoGP title since 2000, Morbidelli had the stronger end to last year.

The Italian, riding the lower A-Spec Yamaha for the Petronas team, swept to three victories and was the highest scoring rider over the final five rounds.

That included a thrilling showdown with Miller at Valencia, where Morbidelli wrestled victory from the Australian on the final lap. Miller then got his revenge by edging out the Italian for second at the Portimao finale, his last ride for Pramac before moving to the Factory Ducati team.

While Mir and Morbidelli have the stability of remaining with the same teams for 2021, Suzuki has been rocked by the departure of experienced team manager Davide Brivio (to F1) while Morbidelli is again the only Yamaha rider without the latest Factory-Spec M1.

"Joan? For sure. He’s got the #1 from last year," replied Miller, when asked if Mir was the man to beat. "Nobody expected him last year either, but he did it and I don’t think we can discount him or Suzuki. They are doing a fantastic job.

"The biggest question mark for them will be Brivio leaving. How they will overcome this hurdle, which came late.

"I think the strongest rival, if we look at the back half of last year, would definitely have to be Frankie at his point, in my opinion. But the only question mark I have on him is he’s on quite an old machine, without any updates. So that's a very strange one for me.

"But for sure you can’t discount the guys like Fabio [Quartararo] and Maverick [Vinales] either. The list can go on, the whole grid is so strong now. It's incredible. We just have to bring our A game and do the best that we can."

One rider not present on the full-time 2021 grid is Miller's good friend Cal Crutchlow, although the triple MotoGP race winner could yet make a wild-card appearance alongside his new Yamaha test riding role.

"About Crutchlow… I won’t miss nothing!" smiled Miller. "No, we all miss him but we have a great group chat between myself, Alex and Sam Lowes and Cal.

"He keeps giving us updates from the building site. I think he’s a builder now!"

 

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