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How Ducati rebuilt Johann Zarco into a factory MotoGP rider
It has been quite an 18 months for Johann Zarco. From facing a potential MotoGP exile after splitting with KTM, the double Moto2 champion has shown his mettle to secure a prized spot in the Ducati fold, putting even greater prospects in reach…
The 2020 MotoGP season was full of 'what-ifs', but perhaps the biggest concerned Zarco. What if he had persevered with KTM into the second year of his contract? Could he have done what Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were able to do and win races?
But this was not the path destined for the Moto2 world champion of 2015 and 2016. Herve Poncharal's decision to promote Zarco to MotoGP in 2017 with his Tech3 team raised some eyebrows, but three podiums on the satellite Yamaha in his debut season had done enough to make him a major player in the 2019 rider market.
Surname pressure is something many have had to deal with in their motorsport careers. And while Luca Marini doesn’t have that, his familial relation and the team he rides for in MotoGP have cast a brighter spotlight on his progress. But, as he has shown in 2022 – and as he reveals to Motorsport.com – Marini is so much more than just the brother of a legend.
Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo had a 91-point lead over rival Francesco Bagnaia after the German Grand Prix, a seemingly impregnable gap to overcome in the remaining 10 races. But as the Frenchman struggled for pace with his Yamaha, Bagnaia stormed back into contention and swept to Ducati's first riders' title since 2007
After a run on Honda's 2023 prototype MotoGP bike, six-time champion Marc Marquez made his pessimism clear with his initial reaction. But the Japanese marque has made leadership changes behind closed doors - and a more representative bike promised for the Malaysia test in February could placate Marquez.
While new MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia might not be the loudest rider on the grid, his calm exterior belies a steely backbone. His part in turning around Ducati's fortunes at the start of the year, when displeased with a new engine concept, shows the strength of his character.
OPINION: Despite the superiority exhibited by the Ducati in 2022, the context in which Francesco Bagnaia became MotoGP world champion means that both the rider and the Italian marque merit the same recognition that the brand and Casey Stoner received after their 2007 title
OPINION: MotoGP’s fifth last round showdown of the modern era delivered a tense finale despite the predictable outcome, as Francesco Bagnaia ended 15 years of pain for Ducati. But as emotions ran high for the Italian marque, a final victory for a departing Japanese rival tinged the campaign’s conclusion with sadness.
Since Ducati announced the arrival of Enea Bastianini to its factory team for 2023, the staging of the four-time race winner has strained the atmosphere within the Italian manufacturer, which has raised its guard in anticipation of what may happen between him and championship favourite Francesco Bagnaia.
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