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On Sunday at the 2020 Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) claimed solid top 10 finish. However, a year ago at MotorLand, the story was completely different. Talking to the Last On The Brakes Podcast team, the Frenchman opens up about what it takes to get back to the top from his 2019 low, in his quest to become a MotoGP™ race winner.
After taking the decision to leave KTM, Zarco rocked up to MotorLand Aragon in his motorhome looking for a job. “It was strange, there was this feeling like ‘this is the end’, maybe? And you are worried because I knew if I am missing the next GPs, there were still six GPs to race and then I would lose a lot and lose this ability to go fast in MotoGP,” explained Zarco.
“So I was worried and feeling it was the beginning of the end. Not too long after, even during the race weekend, there was talk about Honda and Nakagami needing the shoulder surgery, so then I was thinking it would be interesting if you are free to try the Honda. So, there was some hope. But clearly in the beginning, it felt like the end. And it felt strange.”
From how the double Moto2™ World Champion pressed the reset button to when it clicked again, Zarco tells all about an uncertain period of his life.
“I could not really believe it was over. That’s why I decided to quit. And then, I needed a few answers for myself as clearly during the 2019 season some doubt came on me. I cannot always be selfish and sure about me telling ‘I know everything’. So I was wondering myself. But to have a clear answer, I needed a competitive bike and to be sure the bike is working for me it was a way to clear my mind of these doubts. So I was hoping to catch a bike where I can sit on it and thinking ‘I know this can do well, so now do yourself’.
“That (confidence) all came in Malaysia… Malaysia was the best weekend on the Honda, fighting in 8th position and then crashing, not because of me, yeah that’s almost clearing everything - they were thinking he’s there, he can do it. And for me also. So, it helped me a lot also then to have Ducati contract, when they saw those things they thought ok he’s a rider we can take. And that helped me too.”
Furthermore, Zarco explains how his career has panned out and how you can never expect to know how your career is going to go.
“You cannot really expect anything. The only thing you can hope and dream of is a World Title, and a World Title in MotoGP… So long as I believe I can do it in MotoGP, I am pushing myself to imagine the way to go. I think I’ve been kind of particular cause I was really close to my ex-coach, manager, we did a lot together and we did a really special way compared to most riders. That, already these things made me a bit special shall we say. But then when I grew up also I had to speak with this guy, and from that, I showed another side of myself and that’s why I guess the people are seeing these different faces from me.
“But the main target is still there and that’s why they like. Having this life adventure, this is a life adventure, it's not only the sport. It doesn’t help you be strong in your sport but you’re always there, fighting for it and I think this brings the pleasure for the people to see - ah, we like him because it’s not easy for him - I don’t think it’s easy for anyone, but maybe I got a few moments when we can say “it’s done, it’s over”. But no, it’s not done so long as I can believe it.”
It's simply an unmissable episode of Last On The Brakes, and it’s available to watch or listen to on your preferred platform now! Here's what else you can look forward to on the episode:
- Rebuilding his career after KTM
- One of the most interesting characters in the paddock
- Johann’s perspective on young riders rushing into MotoGP
- What will happen when Marquez returns?
- How Johann started riding motorcycles & racing
- Turning into a professional rider
- When he quit in 2008
- Becoming a champion
- Kenwood Quickfire
Question of the week: are young racers rushed into the premier class too soon? Let us know your thoughts in a comment on the YouTube version of this podcast, or by using #MotoGPpodcast on Twitter!
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