Freshly-crowned MotoGP champion Joan Mir and his team-mate Alex Rins are open to team orders in this weekend’s season finale at Portimao, as Suzuki looks to seal a 1-2 in the riders’ championship.
Rins slipped to third in the championship last time out at Valencia, when Franco Morbidelli was able to hold off the last-lap advances of Jack Miller to take his third win of the season.
That allowed Petronas Yamaha rider Morbidelli to squeeze ahead of Rins by four points with only one race remaining.
Rins may need the assistance of team-mate Mir at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix – something Rins admitted has already been discussed between team boss Davide Brivio and the riders.
“We had a conversation at dinner last night with Joan and Davide, and Joan says if there’s something that he can do to do help then he will,” said Rins.
“In the end he is a rival and he wants to beat me, and I understand that. But let’s see what happens.
“I will say thanks to him if he helps me, but even if he doesn’t then I’ll say thanks to him this year for all his hard work. He’s been super fast this year and that has helped me to be fast too, because the first guy you want to beat is your team-mate.
“When I was having bad moments, I was looking at him and thinking ‘Joan is doing an amazing job, and I want to as well’.”
Team orders have been largely a taboo subject in MotoGP and in motorcycle racing as a whole, with only a handful of examples in recent years of the controversial subject coming into play.
However, there is a precedent for Suzuki’s plan in the World Superbike paddock, with newly-crowned 2016 world champion Jonathan Rea conceding second place at the final round of the championship to ensure that team-mate Tom Sykes took second place in the championship from race-winner Chaz Davies.
With the MotoGP championship already sewn up and the pressure off Mir, he also conceded that he is happy to help out as long as he is in the right “situation”.
“If they ask me, I won’t have any problems to help Alex get second position,” said the champion.
“If they had asked him to help me I don’t think he would have any problems doing it, so it’s good for me to do my part as well.
“But it has to be in a situation where I can help him, otherwise it’s not relevant.”
Suzuki can also secure a triple crown of MotoGP titles at Portimao.
With Mir securing the riders’ championship last time out in Valencia where Suzuki also won the teams’ championship, it is equal on points with Ducati entering the final round of the constructors’ championship.
Each constructors’ best finishing bike scores points for that championship, so whichever marque finishes higher in Portugal wins.