“We never lost trust in him”

Delve into some of the biggest Talking Points from a frantic weekend at the Australian GP

It’s taken some time, but we can now finally say that Johann Zarco is a MotoGP™ race winner. The Prima Pramac rider came out on top of a last lap battle at Phillip Island on Saturday to take his maiden victory in the class, after 120 attempts.

There was certainly no shortage of drama during the Australian GP, with title twists and time schedule changes meaning we have been left with plenty of Talking Points. Check out the best below!

“A big feeling of release” 

Johann Zarco will never forget his weekend in Australia, with the Frenchman securing his first ever MotoGP™ race win in his seventh season of trying. Having come so close before but experienced heartbreak, the #5 admitted that thoughts he would never take a win had crossed his mind, but he now well and truly has the monkey off his back!

“All these memories that have been quite tough. There have been times I thought I could not win, or there is a feeling it is too difficult to win, it would be too hard to put all together, but everything came together and means it is possible. A big feeling of release inside the body.”

When asked if he thought about holding off an attack on teammate Jorge Martin, who is chasing Championship glory, and denying him points in the title race, Zarco admitted it wasn’t a concern for him.

“I was focused on overtaking and keeping my position. I had to avoid an attack from the guys behind so that’s why I overtook at that moment. I was not thinking about the Championship. I was focused on what I had to do for myself.

Martin himself took little umbrage with the move: “He deserved the victory. I’m so happy for the team and for him. Now we are super close to the Teams' Championship. This is a good point. But for sure I want the other one. It still depends on me, but I need to be clever and not make these mistakes.

“We never lost trust in him” 

The performance of the French rider drew plenty of praise, with many happy to see him finally take his inspiring breakthrough win in the premier class.

Gino Borsoi (Prima Pramac Racing Team Manager): “We never lost trust in him and now he has achieved his dream. When you never give up, you reach your targets. Today was his day.”

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team): Johann is really a talented rider. He is a two-time Moto2 World Champion. He deserves at least one victory. It was strange that a rider like him didn’t win before, but today he achieved it.”

Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): I’m really happy for him. He has always been strong since he arrived in MotoGP. He has been so close in so many occasions.”

“From now on, I won’t take any gambles”

As for Martin, he was left kicking himself as he saw his three second advantage out front disintegrate on the final laps, and he had to cling on for a P5 finish in Australia. The root of the issue was his tyre selection, with the Soft option backfiring late on for the title contender.

“So close! Now it’s really easy to understand what the best choice was. But it was my plan 100% to go with the Soft. I tried it. It didn’t work but I’m happy with my performance. I did and rode really smoothly, trying to be super clean on the tyres. But finally, it wasn’t worth it, but some learning for the future.

"I was really convinced the Soft was the tyre to choose. From now on, I won’t take any gambles. From now on I think we need to go with the same tyre as our opponents. I will stick to that for the rest of the season at least."

“Things can change very quickly”

 It was another podium for Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in Australia, with the Italian picking up a crucial 20 points to extend his advantage over Martin out to 27 points. Post-race, the reigning Champion reflected on a brilliant last lap battle before sounding a word of warning going into the final rounds of the 2023 campaign.

“I expected the rear tyre of Jorge to drop before, but finally it dropped with 3 or 4 laps to go and on the last lap we had our chance to overtake him.

“Things can change very quickly in the Championship. We know that perfectly. I had 62 points advantage and lost everything. You have to be calm, precise and intelligent in every situation.

“When I saw the choice, it was a big surprise”

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also admitted he was taken aback by Martin’s gamble, and despite the setback, is still backing the Prima Pramac rider for Championship honours once the curtain comes down on the season.

“When I saw the choice, it was a big surprise for me. Riders like me, Pol, you can have the gamble… like last year here, we made the gamble. Last year it worked, this year it didn’t. Jorge today was much faster than the others. We saw that in qualifying. We saw that in the race. We saw the in Practice with the medium tyre he was also super-fast.

“He has at the moment more speed. There are still four races to go, plus the Sprints. Jorge is riding super good.”

“We had no choice in the end”

Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions saw the cancellation of the Tissot Sprint on Sunday. Having already made changes to the schedule to accommodate for the predicted poor weather, it proved too much to overcome and for safety reasons, the Australian GP Tissot Sprint was called off. MotoGP™ Race Director Mike Webb explained the reasoning.

“We had no choice in the end. We knew the forecast was bad, and strangely for here, it's been consistent all week that this was going to happen on Sunday. And that's why we changed the race. The conditions turned out to be what was predicted. Just to be clear, the rain was never an issue, it's wind. And we know from past experience, especially here, and especially with the wind in that particular direction, Turn 1, and 7, 8 are very trying. We had this experience in 2019 where we red flagged MotoGP qualifying for the same reason.”