Over recent years, Johann Zarco’s career has been quite troubled, but in his fifth year in the top class he now finds himself leading the championship. He closed both of the Qatar races in second place, behind the two official Yamaha riders, scoring his first podium since Brno last year. But let’s take a step back.
A decidedly good start
Johann was crowned Moto2 world champion in 2015 and successfully defended his title the following year. In 2017, it was time to move to the reigning class, where he spent the first two years with team Tech 3 - French like him - and immediately did well on the Yamaha. Three podiums and two pole positions in his first year, three podiums the following year and sixth overall in the championship in both years. His big opportunity came in 2019, when he signed for KTM. The Austrian manufacturer had debuted in MotoGP in 2017 and so was still in a development phase, and the partnership between the two parties didn’t get off to the best start.
The unexpected divorce
So much so that the Frenchman (who in the meantime also split from his manager) decided to pull out of his two-year contract and only race until the end of the first year. Ultimately, the Austrian manufacturer opted to let him go after the Misano GP. This unexpected turn saw Zarco suddenly without a ride. He rounded out the year riding the team LCR Honda, standing in for Takaaki Nakagami when he underwent shoulder surgery.
And then, the rebirth
In November 2019, Zarco was evaluating the possibility of returning to Moto2, a class that had already given him so much, but then came the call from Ducati management. Someone still believed in him. And the man in question was Ducati Corse General Manager Gigi Dall’Igna, who wanted to meet him. That was the turning point, as the Frenchman was hired to ride for Esponsorama Avintia for the 2020 season. The team made a solid step forward with Zarco’s arrival, and the good results saw him promoted to team Pramac Racing this season. Having started the year with a double second place, Zarco seems to have regained the kind of serenity and balance that he’d been looking for. Time will tell…
Translated by Heather Watson