Zarco: ‘Everyone says I need to win, but I have nothing to lose’

Still without a MotoGP victory, Johann Zarco wants to change that in 2023 but stressed that the pressure is off.
Johann Zarco, Pramac Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Johann Zarco, Pramac Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

With the likes of Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini and even Pramac teammate Jorge Martin considered the favourites when it comes to Ducati riders challenging for the MotoGP title, Zarco believes he has nothing to lose despite his winless streak in the premier class being something that’s regularly discussed.

The Frenchman has had opportunities to win whilst riding for both Yamaha and more recently Ducati, but whether it was a crash from the lead at Silverstone [2022] or narrowly being beaten at circuits such as Catalunya in 2021, Zarco is yet to clinch that illusive win which his talent certainly suggests he should have to his name.

More than once during pre-season testing Zarco highlighted the potential of Bagnaia as something he’s striving to reach in 2023, which was again the case heading into this weekend’s opening round in Portimao.

"If you take just a technical view of Pecco, he’s super-strong at braking. I focused on braking but didn’t feel comfortable so I changed a bit," added Zarco. 

"Now, I feel good. We’ll see if I can overtake on the brake. These are the changes I want to do. 

"What I see in Pecco? Super-flowing on the bike, it’s pretty nice. Everyone says I need to win. I want to, as well. I have almost nothing to lose.

"We tried to change the approach on the Ducati, to use my strong points and my riding style. I tried to adapt to the bike. 

"Lap time is coming. It’s an opportunity to fight better in the race if you feel more comfortable. We need to see, with the other riders, how I can fight."

Espargaro hoping to fight Ducati with improved Aprilia

Aleix Espargaro, Portuguese MotoGP 24 March
Aleix Espargaro, Portuguese MotoGP 24 March

Another rider who is aiming to get on par with Bagnaia, and will need to do so if he wants to be a title threat, is Aleix Espargaro

The Aprilia rider has lauded the improvements made by the Italian manufacturer over the winter, although he’s still not convinced it’s enough. 

Espargaro said: "The ‘23 bike is not a revolution, it’s an evolution from what we were missing. Extra horsepower, aerodynamics are better, the cooling is improved. But you have to wait for the races. If you improve one step, but the others improved three steps, it means your bike is worse."

When asked if he can realistically challenge Ducati, Espargaro gave an answer that’s very true to his character as a rider: "I will try! But it’s difficult. They have a good base, strong riders with a strong bike. But the Aprilias are close."

Zarco and Espargaro finished the opening practice session of the season in fifth and 11th respectively.

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