Valentino Rossi has shared sympathy with Johann Zarco following the French rider’s dramatic split from Red Bull KTM at the end of the year, as the Italian compares the situation to his own doomed two years at Ducati.

The nine-time world champion’s ‘dream’ move to Ducati in 2011 quickly turned into a nightmare as he struggled to adapt to the Italian manufacturer before ultimately returning to Yamaha after just two seasons.

Zarco and KTM shocked the MotoGP paddock by confirming the two would separate at the end of 2019 – one season into his two-year deal – while the decision leaves the French rider’s future uncertain with no clear race seat left on the 2020 MotoGP grid.

Having faced similar struggles against expectations and performance during his Ducati time, Rossi drew comparisons to his own experiences but felt if he quit without an alternative it could have led to him going “out of the business”.

“I feel a bit similar when I was with Ducati because there is a lot of expectation from outside, but especially from myself and Ducati to be competitive and to win but unfortunately I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike, especially with the front – maybe it was similar with Zarco,” Rossi said.

“I know that when you are in that situation it is really difficult because you lose the motivation and also the happiness to start for the race and think positively that you can do well.

“You have already started in a negative way and it is difficult if you don’t have fun to ride the bike, everything becomes more heavy - the travels, speaking with journalists, everything, you go in a tunnel.

“A lot of times I think to stop when I was with Ducati but in the end for me it was a good decision not to give up because if you stop, you don’t have another bike for racing so it is very easy to go out of the business. At the end I did some good races, like Misano and I take some podiums, in the end it was the right decision.

“When I heard about Zarco, I thought he had another option for next year, but looks like no, so it’s difficult. But I think for everybody it is different. Everybody is a different and if that is his choice, I think he will come back with a competitive bike soon.”

Cal Crutchlow also opened up on his short tenure at Ducati, contesting just the 2014 season before switching to LCR Honda the year after, but felt his experience differed to Zarco’s given his plans were firmly in place.

But the British rider felt Zarco must be “in a desperate situation” after opting to split with KTM before securing his own future.

“When I left Ducati it was for a different reason, I had an offer on the table and I think I did them and me a favour,” Crutchlow said. “With regards to Johann he is obviously in a bad place in his racing career and we know how talented he is as he has been on the podium and he is a very fast rider and has been a world champion. So to leave with no job to go to he is in a desperate situation.

“Hopefully he can find something he enjoys because coming to races trying your best and not enjoying it, it is his job and his life and I can understand that, if you don’t enjoy it and do the whole year like it, it is going to be a hard year. Hopefully he can find something soon and come back.”

Zarco confirmed he is “hungry to come back” to MotoGP in the future but accepts his best route to the grid will come as a MotoGP factory test rider in 2020. The two-time world champion is also considering his options on a return to Moto2 next year.



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