The other French Moto GP rider Johann Zarco had a good season overall in 2020, finishing in a decent 13th place. On the verge of retirement in 2019, he won his bet to compete next year and what’s more, with a better bike.
You had to have guts to believe, at the time, that Johann Zarco would find a handlebar for 2020 or even 2021. In all honesty, there are few to put in this category. Double world champion in Moto 2, the 30-year-old Cannois tried the incredible experience, in 2019 after two years at Tech3, of riding for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, a name as long as the time it took him to understand the mount. Crowned with the status of leader driver and a two-year contract, the Frenchman launched hostilities with the Austrian team, but the long-awaited marriage quickly ended. Grand Prix after Grand Prix, Johann Zarco does not manage to adapt to his machine, despite the numerous and untimely changes given to his KTM. On the track, he wanders with his motorcycle, giving the impression of not playing in the same court. Not to mention the falls, numerous in 2019 (17 in total).
Once the race is over, Zarco spares no effort at the microphone. He does not hide any emotion or his annoyance, and does not hesitate to publicly castigate and almost at every Sunday meeting, his motorcycle. Add to this, an absence of results for the French driver and the two parties sign by mutual agreement, the end of their collaboration after the Austrian Grand Prix, on September 17, 2019. “I’m pretty happy to have made this decision, because it was necessary,” said the Frenchman at the time. I had a good week at home, I was not too busy. Of course I’m taking a risk because at the moment I won’t be able to race in MotoGP next year. But at least one load fell from my shoulders. The most important thing for me is that I feel okay with myself. “
LCR freelance, signature with Ducati Avintia
Without handlebars until the end of the season, Johann Zarco only has his eyes to cry on but he has never turned away from this decision. Finally, a (small) boost from fate allows him to keep this link with the very closed world of Moto GP and above all, to show that he is not “dead” after his break with KTM. A month later, Takaaki Nagami, Team Honda LCR rider, had to undergo surgery. The n ° 5 is called to the rescue to represent the team, the time of the last three Grands Prix. “I was told not to have any illusions, warns the French to the Team when resuming competition. I was not called to win the last Grands Prix of the season. I was offered this handlebar because I am available. For my part, I just hope to find good feelings again. And if I don’t manage to use the equipment that will be entrusted to me, well that will mean that I have no place in MotoGP. They give me three races, they give me a chance and I intend to live it fully. I took a risk by deciding to quit KTM, I’m not going to drag myself down now that I have been handed a pole. I know there is something to go for, it’s up to me to be up to it. “ A good 13th place and two retirements later, on a difficult to maneuver Honda RC213V, Johann Zarco finally announced that he signed with Ducati, with the independent team Avintia, used to the last places in the standings.
Performance in 2020
Despite the prospect of evolving on one, if not the worst bike on the grid, the Frenchman is thrilled in 2020. The Cannois has managed to bounce back from his bitter failure at KTM and has not lost contact with the championship after his freelance with LCR. But he knows that, more than everyone else, there is more to go for the next season. “My 2020 goal is not to appear beyond 10th place, or even top-7, and to join the official team in 2021”, assured the pilot. Determined, thirsty for sensations and eager to finally show himself from his best angle, Zarco worked hard during the pre-season tests and from the start of the 2020 financial year. 11th then 9th in the first two rounds organized successively on the Jerez circuit, the Frenchman arrives “full ball” in Brno in the Czech Republic. Everyone has their eyes fixed on the other tricolor, Fabio Quartararo, winner in Spain, and leaves Zarco aside. Wrong since he signed pole position this weekend. Incredible in view of the performance of the motorcycle. And if in the end, the double motorcycle world champion 2 finishes 3rd in this Grand Prix, he has managed to restore his image.
A reward in 2021
Despite a few blunders here and there, the driver had a good season overall. Especially since on the side of the Ducati factory team, we are preparing to replace Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso. Finally, the first handlebars are attributed to Jack Miller and the team has two names for a last place: Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco. Finally, the place goes to the first but the Frenchman does not have to be ashamed of this promotion at Pramac Racing. It’s a solid team and above all, unlike last year at Avintia, the Cannes rider will be riding the latest Ducati. “Honestly, I don’t know the difference between the two bikes,” Zarco admits. I know that all the cursors will be pushed a little more towards the maximum, which will allow me to make podiums and why not play for victory. For my part, it is a won bet because it continues for 2021. It will always be with the same engine with this great Pramac team which is waiting for me with open arms. I made up for lost time. “