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11 days ago
By motogp.com

Are the stars finally aligning for Zarco, Ducati's top man?

P5, P4, P3, P2, P?... The Pramac Star is on an impressive run of form as he leads the Bologna bullets' Championship charge

It’s been a good few weeks for Johann Zarco, as the Prima Pramac rider goes from strength to strength on the track, and a new Ducati deal is seemingly on the horizon as just reward for his efforts. Fresh from a fourth podium of the year at the Sachsenring, the Frenchman sits third in the Championship standings and is the top rider from the Borgo Panigale factory.

Zarco: I thought I could catch Fabio but grip let me down

His P2 finish at the German GP marks just the third time in his premier class career that Zarco has achieved back-to-back podium results. He had done it once before aboard the Desmosedici, at 2021’s Qatar double, while the other came in Yamaha colours during his rookie season, closing out 2017 with rostrums in Malaysia and Valencia.

His latest uptick in form sees him now sit on 111 Championship points, 11 ahead of Ducati counterpart Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and 30 clear of factory duo Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller. Though he has some ways to go to close the gap the runaway Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), he currently looks the best placed of eight Ducatis to challenge his compatriot, and Zarco feels he has the structure to do so.

"There’s no more support to get from Ducati because of my position. That’s the very good thing of Ducati that when you start the season with all the Pramac team, you know you have the full support as a factory rider and that’s pretty important. We all have the chance to be on the top in the Championship," he said during Sunday's post-race Press Conference.

"At the moment, I am the one in third place because I have been consistent in the last four races. The bike will always be pushing at its best. We have eight Ducatis on the track. This helps the riders to compare themselves and try to improve. It helps also Ducati to get good data. To get good data from each rider, they need to give also good materials to everyone. Almost this is what they are able to do. There won't be more support because I’m third, because the support is already full.

UNHEARD: "Vive la France!"

Indeed, bar from a couple of blots on the copybook in Argentina and Spain, Zarco has been a model of consistency throughout 2022. With the exception of those two DNFs, the Pramac man has been inside the top 10 in every race when he hasn’t been finishing on the podium. That form should see him rewarded a new deal with the Ducati satellite outfit, as Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti confirmed during Saturday’s action in Germany.

It is not the first time that Zarco has been in a situation like the one he currently finds himself in. If we cast our minds back to 12 months ago, he was also the top Ducati, sitting second in Championship as we went into the summer break. He suffered a dip in form when the season resumed, claiming a solitary top 10 in the first six races back, and he is keen to learn his lessons from that experience and maintain the same ambition he holds now.

"Really (I want to) give the best every track. The level is so high. It’s pretty tough to be on the podium. Last year I was in a very good situation. At this same time I was even second in the Championship, I think. So, this year I didn’t start so well. I had two crashes this season. I’m third at the moment. So, I’m happy to be the first one, but it doesn’t change the strategy. I know the potential of the bike. I know I can do it."

Looking at the more immediate future, Assen is the centre of Zarco’s focus. On an impressive run of form, which has seen him metronomically improve his finishing position from P5 in France, to P4 in Italy, to P3 in Catalunya to P2 in Germany, he’ll be hoping that streak continues in Assen as he hopes to finally capture that elusive maiden MotoGP™ victory.

You can see how the Pramac star fares across the weekend by tuning in from Friday, June 24th, when the Dutch GP kicks off!

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