Ducati: "Gamble" Zarco proving to be 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 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.

"We are happy because Johann was a gamble by Ducati when nobody was considering him," Ciabatti told 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."

Read Also:

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.

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 Espargaro sit ahead of Marquez's return?

Where does Espargaro sit ahead of Marquez's return?
Load comments
How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race Prime

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race

The 2021 MotoGP season may have only just ended but preparations for 2022 are well underway following a two-day test at Jerez this week. Ducati has hit the ground running while a lack of progress dominated Yamaha’s and world champion Fabio Quartararo’s test. While no battle lines have been drawn yet for 2022, it appears Ducati has already drawn first blood...

MotoGP
Nov 20, 2021
Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late Prime

Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late

Suzuki is on the search for a new team manager after its decision not to replace Davide Brivio at the start of 2021 was backed up by its unsuccessful bid to help Joan Mir defend his 2020 MotoGP world title. But whoever Shinichi Sahara appoints next, it may have already come too late to convince Mir to stick with the project

MotoGP
Nov 19, 2021
How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career Prime

How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career

The greatest chapter in MotoGP history came to a close at the Valencia Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi bid farewell after 26 seasons of grand prix racing. While his run to a strong 10th was a pleasing end to his time in MotoGP, it was what happened at the front of the grid that capped the Italian's ideal send-off

MotoGP
Nov 15, 2021
Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove Prime

Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove

OPINION: MotoGP-bound Darryn Binder was already under the microscope as his jump from Moto3 to join RNF's new top-class team was announced. But his crash with title hopeful Dennis Foggia caused significant consternation among the ranks - with many current riders suggesting the top level should be harder to break into as a result

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2021
How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo Prime

How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo’s first DNF of his title-winning 2021 MotoGP season couldn’t have come at a better time. But the events of the Yamaha rider’s Algarve Grand Prix exposed the M1’s well-known major weakness, which could threaten his championship defence given the increasingly Ducati-heavy makeup of the grid heading into 2022

MotoGP
Nov 8, 2021
What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression Prime

What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression

The pressure shouldered by young riders is at the root of the increased on-track aggression seen in lower categories of late, which motorcycling's governing bodies want to curb with new rules. But will stopping under-18s from racing in the world championship and capping grid sizes prevent the often desperate acts of youths pursuing their MotoGP dreams?

MotoGP
Nov 2, 2021
The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano Prime

The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano

The prospect of Fabio Quartararo clinching the 2021 MotoGP world championship title at Misano appeared small after struggling to 15th in qualifying, while main rival Francesco Bagnaia took pole. Here's how the Yamaha rider turned it around, with help from an ill-fated Bagnaia tyre choice, to secure the crown with two races to spare

MotoGP
Oct 25, 2021
Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on Prime

Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on

Saturday 23 October marks the 10th anniversary of Marco Simoncelli's death. The one-time 250cc world champion and double MotoGP podium finisher was the ultimate maverick character with big hair, a big personality and an even bigger talent. Motorsport.com pays tribute to a much-missed figure, a decade on.

MotoGP
Oct 23, 2021