Ducati: "Gamble" Zarco proving to be rider "we thought he was"

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti admits signing Johann Zarco in 2020 was a “gamble” as “nobody trusted him” following his miserable part-2019 MotoGP campaign with KTM.

Ducati: "Gamble" Zarco proving to be rider "we thought he was"

Zarco registered just one top 10 result in his stint with KTM as a factory rider in 2019, which ended after the Misano round when the marque elected to drop him with immediate effect after he'd already announced the termination of his two-year contract following the Austrian Grand Prix.

A three-race run with LCR and Honda as Takaaki Nakagami's stand-in ultimately wasn't enough to secure him a full-time HRC ride for 2020, with Zarco seriously considering a return to Moto2.

Ducati convinced him to sign with it and join Avintia – which he initially shunned – and a podium at Brno last year led to his promotion to Pramac with full factory support for this season.

Finishing second in both Qatar races and as top Ducati rider, Zarco leads the championship by four points ahead of this weekend's Portuguese GP.

"We are happy because Johann was a gamble by Ducati when nobody was considering him," Ciabatti told Spanish language Motorsport.com.

"I think he will be a protagonist throughout the championship.

"Johann was convinced by us to stay in MotoGP at the end of 2019, because we thought he was a talented rider.

"After a very complicated year with KTM, nobody trusted him to the extent he wanted to go back to Moto2.

"With the help of Ducati he built up a confidence with the bike over the course of 2020 that has led him to merit a move to Pramac, with bikes identical to the factory team.

"Now he is proving to be the rider we thought he was."

Read Also:

Zarco admitted following his Qatar double podium that leading the MotoGP standings was not any sort of redemption for his tough times at KTM.

Ciabatti added: "Because of the resources we inject there, Pramac is a factory team with another sponsor.

"And in that sense, Johann is earning that Ducati sees him as an equally valid option in the title fight as Jack [Miller] and Pecco [Bagnaia]."

In Qatar, Pramac rookie Jorge Martin stunned with pole at the Doha GP and third in the race having led for the first 17 laps.

Martin's Doha performance courted comparisons to other legendary MotoGP rookies, but Ciabatti was wary of putting too much pressure on his shoulders.

"What he has to do is to continue like this, as he has done so far," Ciabatti added.

"Now we have to see what happens on circuits where he hasn't ridden the Ducati before, and where he will only have two days to get used to them.

""The last race in Qatar was very special because all the riders had been riding there for many days, and that is something that helps the rookies.

"It will be now, on tracks that are new to him, where we will see his maturity and ability to adapt."

shares
comments

Related video

Mir has to ride MotoGP qualifying laps in 'unnatural' way

Previous article

Mir has to ride MotoGP qualifying laps in 'unnatural' way

Next article

Where does Espargaro sit ahead of Marquez's return?

Where does Espargaro sit ahead of Marquez's return?
Load comments
How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike Prime

How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike

His third place at Misano made Enea Bastianini the fifth different Ducati-mounted rider to score a podium in 2021. Amid a season that has seen one rider amass the bulk of Yamaha and Honda's success, the Ducati's versatility makes for a potent weapon, but the contribution of a former leading light shouldn't be forgotten

MotoGP
Sep 23, 2021
The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career Prime

The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career

Maverick Vinales’ early debut with Aprilia has been one of the most interesting plots of the recent MotoGP rounds. The results may not look standout on paper, but a closer inspection reveals just how much progress Vinales has truly made in understanding a bike that has taken him well out of his “comfort zone”.

MotoGP
Sep 22, 2021
Why Misano was a pivotal race for MotoGP's present and future Prime

Why Misano was a pivotal race for MotoGP's present and future

On a day each of the podium trio could claim to be the star of the show, the San Marino GP will be remembered as a pivotal race in both MotoGP's present and future. While Fabio Quartararo demonstrated his world title credentials just behind Francesco Bagnaia's flawless victory charge, a new threat emerged from the shadows

MotoGP
Sep 20, 2021
How Ducati's Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future Prime

How Ducati's Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future

Duelling against Marc Marquez at the Aragon Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia came out on top to secure a long overdue MotoGP victory. As Marquez likened Bagnaia to a Ducati title contender of old, it appears the Italian rider could finally start to fight for wins on a more regular basis

MotoGP
Sep 13, 2021
Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble Prime

Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble

OPINION: The return of Andrea Dovizioso to the grid at Misano will be an interesting subplot to the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season. But the circumstances that have led to the former Ducati rider ending his sabbatical point to his signing being one more of convenience than a long-term commitment

MotoGP
Sep 8, 2021
Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP Prime

Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP

OPINION: The 2021 British Grand Prix was a historic day for MotoGP. At the centre of it was Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia after securing its first podium in the modern MotoGP era. It was something of a full-circle moment that highlighted just how far MotoGP has come in the last decade

MotoGP
Aug 30, 2021
Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home Prime

Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home

OPINION: Many of the UK’s MotoGP fans would prefer Donington Park to host the British GP beyond the expiry of Silverstone's current deal. But the track's fast, flowing circuit provides the best racing and should be regarded as its best bet for the foreseeable future

MotoGP
Aug 26, 2021
How Marc Marquez is facing his toughest challenge in MotoGP Prime

How Marc Marquez is facing his toughest challenge in MotoGP

The 2020 MotoGP season was an enthralling affair, but few would argue with you if you thought the world championship was a poorer place without Marc Marquez. In an exclusive interview, he explains the challenges he's faced in his comeback from injury and what he makes of the current MotoGP landscape.

MotoGP
Aug 23, 2021