Zarco at HRC in 2020? No "concrete" track, answers the former KTM pilot
Johann Zarco, fired Tuesday by KTM a month after asking for his breach of contract, is nevertheless present two days later at the GP of Aragon … This feeds all the rumors about the future of the talented French driver, like seeing him replace Jorge Lorenzo next year at HRC on the official Honda MotoGP…
Surprise this Thursday in the MotoGP paddock in Alcaniz (Spain): Johann Zarco walks between the semi-trailers, "Red Bull" cap screwed on his head, while this 2019 Aragon Grand Prix will be disputed without him following his " "by KTM. For the first time since its debut in 2009, Cannes finds itself without a motorbike until the end of the season…
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"No Grand Prix indeed, I found out on Tuesday", explains the n ° 5 – visibly surprised and shaken – on Canal +, broadcaster of MotoGP in France. "I am in the paddock because I have things to collect but I am not staying until the race because I have to go home earlier to train".
"It feels weird: ten years of Grands Prix and then I am told: ‘no, you do not finish the season.’ Even if I decided not to do the season next year with KTM, I had tried to anticipate to give me the chance to bounce back, "continues the 29-year-old Frenchman, still under contract with KTM until the final in Valence.
"My heart was ripped out"
Johann will therefore no longer ride in MotoGP this year, but until 2020 he cannot claim to bounce back in another structure, including outside the Grands Prix. "They pulled the rug out from under my feet a little, it’s weird … They tore something out of my stomach, they tore out my heart", he admits with a touch of emotion.
"It is not easy to digest at the beginning and then the days go by and it is like everything, we accept it better and we move forward", he explains before ensuring shortly after on the MotoGP official website: "I don’t mean to say I’m disappointed, it’s part of the game and it’s pretty understandable".
Recall that the decision to oust Johann was officially taken with the aim of continuing the development of KTM during the six remaining races with test driver Mika Kallio. Insofar as Johann wants to go to the competition next year, it was "impossible to let him access the latest data", revealed to us KTM France
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In reality, if the KTM has indeed made good progress in two and a half seasons, but it is still a long way from the Ducati, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha … So much so that one can wonder who, except perhaps Aprilia, would be really interested in the data of the, knowing moreover that it is the only motorcycle of the platform with tubular frame and suspensions WP ?!
"Johann had a bad fall during the warm-up in Misano," recalls Mike Leitner, team manager of the Orange structure. "After that, we thought about it. We didn’t want to expose him to another danger in the next six races and our board decided to end this chapter.".
"I don’t have concrete things at the moment"
Whatever the reasons for this, the presence of Johann Zarco in Aragon does not fail to interject: why did the French n ° 5 make the trip to Spain, two days after learning of his layoff? Cannes mentions "things to recover" … but without really convincing, because his personal effects could quite simply have been delivered to him.
Maybe he just came for contractual reasons: Johann will be an employee of the Austrian group until the end of the year, which means that KTM can again decide to use his services at any time. In this, his situation evokes that of a football player on the sidelines, but likely to replace a holder in case…
This scenario is not as fanciful as it seems, because if Pol Espargaro and / or Mika Kallio fall and get injured during the GP Aragon practice, who to line up the KTM at the start? The options would be very limited: either Dani Pedrosa – but he no longer wants to compete in Grands Prix – or Johann…
Another very likely reason for his presence at MotorLand: the newbie of the year 2017 takes the opportunity to "prospect" with the players of the Grand Prix! Meeting decision-makers and putting your connections to work in the boxes will indeed be much more complicated when MotoGP begins the tour of the Pacific in early October..
"I am currently in good shape to ride fast in MotoGP and I have to use that moment", insists the French rider, who has scored six podiums during his two seasons with Yamaha Tech3. For Johann, "his priority is MotoGP", although he admits that he does not have many options at this stage…
What if Zarco replaced Lorenzo at HRC ?
One of the options that maddens some observers is to see him replace Jorge Lorenzo on the official Honda from 2020! His presence in Aragon revives the rumor of an early retirement of the Mallorcan, worn out by his repeated falls on the RC213V and his vertebral fractures.
This incredible transfer would come as the HRC approached Johann Zarco at the start of the 2018 season … before learning that he had already signed with KTM the previous winter! Honda would he be ready to erase this "quack" – for which Johann apologized to Alberto Puig – if by any chance Lorenzo really threw in the towel at the end of the year ?
MNC has some doubts on this subject, even if several voices were raised in favor of Johann: "the organization of the Grand Prix de France supports Johann Zarco who will not compete for the rest of the 2019 season", announces for example Claude Michy, active support of French pilots who fill the stands at Le Mans !
- MNC of September 18, 2019 : KTM France boss understands replacement of Zarco by Kallio
And what does the person think? "No, the media talk a lot but I don’t have concrete things at the moment", assures the future-former KTM rider. "It’s normal, all contracts are sealed so I just need to keep believing in it and use this opportunity to prepare myself even better than I am".
At HRC in 2020 … or at Yamaha or LCR in 2021 ?
At this stage, nothing is signed or clearly planned for 2020 according to Johann Zarco, who says he is "fully free to find opportunities" and continues to project himself as a test driver next year – no doubt for Yamaha – and use this role to become a holder again in 2021.
MNC of September 5 : The retirement of Cal Crutchlow, a good plan for Zarco ?
Plausible scenario, especially since pilots like Cal Cructhlow are already talking about their … We can even imagine that it is this place at Honda-LCR in 2021 that Zarco came to negotiate this weekend … There remains one detail that was not lost on MNC: the interview with Johann Zarco happened as if by chance in front of Marc Marquez’s Honda-Repsol motorhome: a sign ?!
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