New season, new team and already a first podium: Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac) launched his MotoGP season beyond his expectations by finishing 2nd in the inaugural round in Qatar on Sunday, behind Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha ).
Not bad for the one who was aiming for a top 5 and who, pointing at 362.4 km / h on Saturday, also set himself a new speed record in MotoGP!
"I savor the moment and I will analyze later", he reacted at the end of a "good but long race".
"The end was difficult," said the Avignon player.
I thought I had the speed to follow Vinales (...) but I was slipping a lot.
It was thanks to my engine that I saved second place! ”
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MotoGP: Quartararo and Zarco have their fangs
It is thanks to this engine that he also took it in a great start from 6th position on the grid, like the two official Ducatis and that of his teammate at Pramac, all four in the lead in the first. turn.
In front of crowded stands (a rare thing in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic), 3rd place goes to Italian poleman Francesco Bagnaia, for his first in the Ducati factory team.
The second Frenchman, Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), is 5th behind the defending champion, the Spaniard Joan Mir (Suzuki), who has moved up from 10th place on the grid.
Third on the grid behind his team-mate Quartararo, Vinales made like him an average start, largely beaten in the exercise by the Ducati.
But then he "felt the potential and" kept (his) calm to attack at the right time "and ascend to success with surgical precision.
“He had a fabulous race,” commented his boss Lin Jarvis, “seriously impressed”, as did the entire paddock by a Maverick more confident than ever on his bike.
Less spirited, Quartararo tried for a while but couldn't emulate this performance for his debut as a Yamaha factory rider.
The Spaniards Alex Rins (Suzuki), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Pol Espargaro (Honda), the Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) and the very good "rookie" Enea Bastianini (Ducati-Avintia), Moto2 champion last year , complete the top 10. For Miller, who had dominated the pre-season tests on the same Losail circuit then free practice on Friday and Saturday, there is reason to be disappointed, but he will have the opportunity of a revenge from next weekend, in Qatar again.
Italian veteran Valentino Rossi (who took the place of Quartararo at Yamaha-SRT during the winter) is 12th in the absence of Spaniard Marc Marquez (Honda), injured in his right arm since last summer and forfeited at less for the first two races of 2021.
In Moto2, no surprise with the victory of Briton Sam Lowes ahead of Australian Remy Gardner.
The Italian Fabio di Giannantonio, 3rd, dedicated his podium to his boss, the former driver Fausto Gresini, who died of the Covid-19 at the end of February, for whom the paddock respected a minute of silence on Sunday.
In Moto3, the Spanish favorites Jaume Masia, winner, and South African Darryn Binder, 3rd, frame the Spanish “rookie” Pedro Acosta (16) on the podium. French debutant Lorenzo Fellon, same age, finished 19th. .
MotoGP: Quartararo and Zarco have their teeth