MotoGP Assen: ‘Ducati is the best thing for me’ - Zarco

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Third in the MotoGP Championship, with four podiums in 2022, Johann Zarco arrives at Assen as the highest scoring Ducati rider.

The Prima Pramac rider has been quietly going about his business while talk has remained centred on the Lenovo factory pair and which rising star will claim the promotion alongside Pecco Bagnaia for next year.

“I’m pleased with how it’s going for me, this first half because it didn’t start as well as I started the ‘21 season - with the two podiums in a row in Qatar last year,” Zarco admitted from Assen. “But trying to get focus, really on each weekend, give maximum energy I can and try to confirm well this Ducati bike. The 2022 bike is sometimes a bit more difficult to fix, so then the races are becoming sometimes a bit more difficult but results was coming on the last races and just for this, I’m really happy.”

While Ducati’s focus has been on Jorge Martin or Enea Bastianini as Jack Miller’s potential replacement, Zarco has been left a little out of the limelight, despite him being 11 points clear of his Gresini rival and 50 ahead of his teammate. His future on Bologna machinery, however, is surely a forgone conclusion.

“We have a pretty good relationship overall because I’m alone to speak straight with them, without any manager,” the Frenchman confirmed.

“They know how I think, they know that the chance to stay with Ducati is the best thing for me to build up my results and go to the victory and having the factory Ducati in Pramac team is already so good for me.

“So yeah, continue with Ducati, this we can say, is not signed but just by talking it’s almost 100% sure. It would be a bad surprise to not have any contract. But then I think they know more or less all the riders they will have in Ducati just they are not 100% sure who to put next to Pecco.

“By joking I was telling to [Paolo] Ciabatti and [Gigi] Dall’Igna that if they have hesitation between an Italian or Spanish one they can take right in the middle, the French one!

“They all kind of agree but there are many things to take in consideration and knowing that I’m feeling really good with Pramac and the relationship with [Paolo] Campinoti also, when a satellite team with a factory bike as good result as we are doing, it’s so good for a satellite team. Also they have their own sponsor, that they can have more support from the sponsor from this side because they have a good rider, that sometimes when the good rider is going to the factory team and they have to rebuild something with another one that for this side can be good to stay with Pramac.

“On the other side the prestige of the factory team, if I win races and can be a contender for the title then it will be even better to be in the factory team but you never know.”

“It’s so intense every weekend, the focus is really on performing every day and as well as performing then I can receive some good results. Because I’m feeling so good with the Pramac team, everyone knows that the factory team is one step that is kind of a dream and they know my position so well. So I do not have any pressure.

“I said beginning of the year, I hope the results will be good enough that we continue together and you’ll take me in consideration and I can say that really they are doing it pretty well. So I have no negative thoughts or feelings with all at Ducati.”

The 31-year-old’s results in recent weeks have been both successful and progressive, with Le Mans heralding the start of a consecutive pattern that saw him gain one position per race, with the next step being victory in Assen if the trend continues this weekend.

“It’s easier to say than do it!” Zarco said. “But why not? Would be so fantastic to follow this logic. I think the tricky weather that we can have during this weekend, for me it can help because just to save some energy, physically and with the rain tyres I’m used to, even enjoying more the bike because you need less strength to bring the bike into the corner.

“So for me the tricky conditions can be great, to follow that logic and let’s see. Also will be kind of a strategy if we know it’s raining in FP2 and FP3, push straightaway in FP1 to already qualify for Q2. At the end, the weekend remains the same. Go straight in Q2 to prepare well your qualifying and then be in the first row - because every time you start on first row this gives you a bigger chance to play the podium.

“So really, let’s see how it will be, also with this new fairing on the Ducati on this place where there are the fast chicanes. I think the fairing can help compared to last year and just if we have this better feeling I can be competitive.

“If we have the rain this weekend, it will be quite cold so it’s another story with the tyres and the feeling on track,” he said comparing the approaching race with Mandalika, which saw him mount the podium in third. “But we had the biggest rain session in Portugal, I was feeling good and that’s why I like this condition because it’s a way for me to feel well the bike without using the strength of the body and in that way I enjoy almost more.”