Ducati: “Gamble” Zarco proving to be MotoGP rider “we thought he was”

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti admits signing Johann Zarco in 2020 was a “gamble” as “nobody trusted him” following his miserable part-2019 MotoGP campaign with KTM.

Ducati: “Gamble” Zarco proving to be MotoGP rider “we thought he was”

Zarco registered just one top 10 result in his stint with KTM as a factory rider in 2019, which ended after the Misano round when the marque elected to drop him with immediate effect after he’d already announced the termination of his two-year contract following the Austrian Grand Prix.

A three-race run with LCR and Honda as Takaaki Nakagami’s stand-in ultimately wasn’t enough to secure him a full-time HRC ride for 2020, with Zarco seriously considering a return to Moto2.

Ducati convinced him to sign with it and join Avintia – which he initially shunned – and a podium at Brno last year led to his promotion to Pramac with full factory support for this season.

Finishing second in both Qatar races and as top Ducati rider, Zarco leads the championship by four points ahead of this weekend’s Portuguese GP.

Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing

Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“We are happy because Johann was a gamble by Ducati when nobody was considering him,” Ciabatti told Autosport’s sister Spanish language Motorsport.com.

“I think he will be a protagonist throughout the championship.

“Johann was convinced by us to stay in MotoGP at the end of 2019, because we thought he was a talented rider.

“After a very complicated year with KTM, nobody trusted him to the extent he wanted to go back to Moto2.

“With the help of Ducati he built up a confidence with the bike over the course of 2020 that has led him to merit a move to Pramac, with bikes identical to the factory team.

“Now he is proving to be the rider we thought he was.”

Zarco admitted following his Qatar double podium that leading the MotoGP standings was not any sort of redemption for his tough times at KTM.

Ciabatti added: “Because of the resources we inject there, Pramac is a factory team with another sponsor.

“And in that sense, Johann is earning that Ducati sees him as an equally valid option in the title fight as Jack [Miller] and Pecco [Bagnaia].”

In Qatar, Pramac rookie Jorge Martin stunned with pole at the Doha GP and third in the race having led for the first 17 laps.

Read Also:

Martin’s Doha performance courted comparisons to other legendary MotoGP rookies, but Ciabatti was wary of putting too much pressure on his shoulders.

“What he has to do is to continue like this, as he has done so far,” Ciabatti added.

“Now we have to see what happens on circuits where he hasn't ridden the Ducati before, and where he will only have two days to get used to them.

“"The last race in Qatar was very special because all the riders had been riding there for many days, and that is something that helps the rookies.

“It will be now, on tracks that are new to him, where we will see his maturity and ability to adapt.”

shares
comments

Related video

Mir has to ride MotoGP qualifying laps in "unnatural" way

Previous article

Mir has to ride MotoGP qualifying laps in "unnatural" way

Next article

Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return?

Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return?
Load comments

About this article

Series MotoGP
Author Oriol Puigdemont
The impossible problem Honda faces with its 2021 MotoGP bike Plus

The impossible problem Honda faces with its 2021 MotoGP bike

Honda hasn’t enjoyed an easy start to the 2021 MotoGP campaign, despite gains last season which looked to have carried over into the pre-season. Now admitting it does have issues in serious need of resolving, it faces an almost impossible task in doing so

MotoGP
May 11, 2021
How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem Plus

How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem

The brutal nature of a series of crashes at Jerez has reopened the debate about whether current MotoGP speeds are beyond the safety limits of the tracks. But even if riders are supportive of the move, getting the manufacturers to find a consensus on how speed reductions should be achieved may be altogether harder

MotoGP
May 4, 2021
How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption Plus

How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption

Jack Miller’s tough start to life as a factory Ducati MotoGP rider left him mentally battered and bruised, but a pep talk and positive reinforcement from a surprising source aided the Australian to show his full potential with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix

MotoGP
May 3, 2021
What does Marc Marquez have to do to get back to his best? Plus

What does Marc Marquez have to do to get back to his best?

Following his resounding MotoGP return with a seventh place finish in Portugal, Marc Marquez now must work to rediscover his best form before turning his attention towards results-based targets

MotoGP
Apr 20, 2021
How Yamaha’s rookie-spec MotoGP star is taking charge Plus

How Yamaha’s rookie-spec MotoGP star is taking charge

Fabio Quartararo is on a roll in 2021, having stormed to victory at a venue where he last year served up one of his worst races. Contrasting Portuguese GPs for Yamaha’s factory duo make it hard to understand just how good its 2021 MotoGP bike is, but the Portimao weekend has revealed one key improvement compared to 2020

MotoGP
Apr 19, 2021
The hurdles Marquez faces next in his Portugal MotoGP return Plus

The hurdles Marquez faces next in his Portugal MotoGP return

Even by Marc Marquez’s own high standards, his MotoGP comeback on Friday at the Portuguese Grand Prix will be considered a success even if he didn’t top the times. But having shown competitive pace on his first day back, both Marquez and his rivals know plenty more challenges are to come

MotoGP
Apr 16, 2021
Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return? Plus

Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return?

Pol Espargaro’s first results as a Honda MotoGP rider may not appear special. But dig a little deeper and a clearer picture of his performance emerges. And, as Lewis Duncan writes, it’s cause for celebration at Honda with the return of Marc Marquez set to provide Espargaro with the reference he has been missing so far this year

MotoGP
Apr 12, 2021
The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons Plus

The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons

MotoGP’s 2021 rookie crop is one of the strongest in recent years, but one is already standing out. Jorge Martin’s Doha GP heroics have courted many to compare him to numerous MotoGP legends. Autosport spoke to Pramac boss Francesco Guidotti to find out why MotoGP’s latest Spanish star is already making such an impact

MotoGP
Apr 9, 2021