Mamola column: Why Rossi is wrong about Zarco

In his latest Motorsport.com column, 500cc legend Randy Mamola stands up for the star rookie of the 2017 MotoGP season, Johann Zarco, amid criticism of the Frenchman from Valentino Rossi.

Mamola column: Why Rossi is wrong about Zarco
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Top 3 after qualifying: Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, PolesitterJohann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, Danilo Petrucci, Pramac Racing

Zarco's explosive arrival in the premier class has been accompanied by some criticism due to his aggressiveness on track, with Valentino Rossi being by far his most ardent detractor.

In a sense, the Frenchman has been unlucky that it was the nine-time world champion who has been on the receiving of his most feisty manoeuvres, both of which made Rossi react.

The first one was in Austin, where Valentino cut the track at Turn 4 after being caught by Zarco, who made slight contact with the factory Yamaha rider with a bold passing attempt at Turn 3. Rossi rebuked the Tech 3 novice afterwards, warning him that he was no longer in Moto2.

More recently was the second move, which took place last month at Assen. There, 'The Doctor' ended up with 'signed' leathers as Zarco's front tyre left its mark on the Italian when the pair came together in at the Turn 3/Turn 4 right-hander.

After that incident, Rossi even said that his rival doesn't "understand" how to measure distances and ignores how much room his bike needs, as well as being overly aggressive when overtaking.

Other riders like Rossi's teammate Maverick Vinales have confirmed that point of view. Even if he was less harsh than Rossi, Vinales recognised that normally Zarco risks a lot during the first stages of the race.

I honestly don't agree with them, and I believe that Zarco's rivals should leave him alone. It is what he deserves.

So far he hasn't taken out any other riders of a race, something not every rider can say this season. He doesn't make many mistakes and he doesn't push over the limit during practice sessions.

The best rookie since Marquez

What we are facing now is something we have seen before, and the most recent example is probably Marc Marquez.

When Marquez arrive in the premier category in 2013 many people complained about his aggressiveness, even marked him out as being fearless. But after all that, he became world champion in his first year in MotoGP.

Now everybody understands that his riding style is always on the limit, but virtually never over it. The stewards are the only ones that can objectively judge such matters.

What has made Zarco a magnet for criticism is the fact he has often been fighting for top positions, but Rossi and the rest of the top riders should be used to this situation. It is obvious that he wouldn't be receiving the same attention if he was battling for the 10th place.

Further down the grid, many things happen and sometimes we don't even notice them. For example, we could discuss Danilo Petrucci, who earned a reputation last year for ruining other riders' races - not least his own teammate Scott Redding at Aragon.

While Petrucci has usually been further up the grid this year, none of the top riders would really be able to predict how the Pramac Ducati rider would act when he is fighting for the top positions.

As for Zarco, they should get used to it. The Nice-born rider has been Moto2 world champion twice, so he knows what he is doing even if his current bike is completely different to the one he rode before.

I would even say that his adaptation to MotoGP has been better and more natural than some of his rivals, who never expected him to be able to deliver such brilliant performances.

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