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Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is making a habit of getting in the fight at the front in MotoGP™. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion did it again at the Circuit of the Americas – taking a stunning fifth – but was also involved in an incident with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) that saw the Italian head into the run off and rejoin. The rider from Tavullia was also subsequently given a 0.3 second time penalty for gaining an advantage after going straight on and not slowing down.
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Zarco vs. Rossi: Their version of events
As can be expected with racing, the riders had differing views on it:
Johann Zarco, P5: “I am really happy with the result but the start of the race was tricky and it was not easy to get into a good position at the first turn. I wanted to follow the top group so I pushed to stay close to Valentino and I was able to fight with him, which was fantastic. We came very close at one point because I had a bit more speed than him in the third corner, and maybe it was a bit too tight but fortunately, nothing serious happened and he went on to finish second. I was quite fast into the corner and I could keep the line, but he had to cut the track. Then he stayed on the gas so he can be penalized by three tenths, and it didn’t affect the results. It’s not a problem and part of the race. I really didn’t want to cause a problem for Vale and I know that I can learn a lot from him so luckily, we both recovered. 5th is just awesome and I am pleased because the podium was close today."
Rossi had a different take, saying he didn’t agree with the penalty – but that that wasn’t the main issue in Texas:
Valentino Rossi: “Today, for me the penalty wasn’t right because I had two choices – go straight or crash. But the problem there was not Race Direction, the problem was Zarco. He’s very fast, he rides very well and has great potential but this isn’t Moto2 and if you want to overtake you overtake in a different way - he always arrives too delayed. He needs to stay a little more quiet!”
Somewhere between the two opinions was reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who was also asked for his take on the incident and penalty in the post-race Press Conference – with teammate Dani Pedrosa not having seen it and not weighing in.
Marc Marquez: “The move was aggressive but everyone is pushing 100%. I’m an aggressive rider, Valentino is an aggressive rider. We’ve overtaken strongly in the past, we do now and we will do in the future. I think if you are an aggressive rider, you need to understand that others are aggressive too. This is racing. It was tight and aggressive. But regarding the penalty? I don’t think Valentino gained anything."
The penalty had little effect on the result in the end as the ‘Doctor’ blasted away from Pedrosa once up into second – with a gap much bigger than the 0.3 seconds needed to keep the place - and all's well that ends well, right?
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