Johann Zarco will make his return to MotoGP action on Saturday morning, already knowing he will have a pit lane start for the Styrian MotoGP race.

The Frenchman was forced to sit out Friday practice after undergoing surgery on Wednesday for a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist, sustained in Sunday's massive accident with Franco Morbidelli at Turn 2 of the Red Bull Ring circuit.

After summoning both riders on Thursday, the FIM Stewards today announced that Zarco will have a pit lane start on Sunday after being found guilty of 'riding in an irresponsible manner causing a crash'.

The Avintia Ducati rider said he had considered making an appeal.

However, given his injury, Zarco decided it is better to take the pit lane start here than have the penalty suspended and, should he lose the appeal, be forced to give up what is likely to be a much better grid place next time at Misano.

“The positive thing is that I’m declared fit to ride tomorrow," Zarco said. "My wrist is improving very fast and I’m happy with this. I think I will have some pain, it's normal, and I will see how I can control this pain. But it's good to try. So I'm happy they said I can ride.

"I'm unhappy with the penalty. I was thinking to make an appeal to the FIM, but then it’s a bit tricky and it will again push the problem even later. In the case that maybe my appeal is not accepted, then the situation will be not good.

"So I prefer to swallow this penalty and start from the pit lane this weekend and close the story. Better to do in that way and then do the best races possible in Misano, when I will be 100% fit.

"Also [because] my target is to stay with Ducati and get the best bike possible, it was not the plan to play for the championship this season so starting from pit lane this weekend is not the end of the world.”

But having implied that the Stewards had already made up their minds before they spoke to him on Thursday, Zarco was asked directly if he still has confidence in the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel, which is led by former world champion Freddie Spencer.

"It's not an easy job, what they are doing... But no, I'm not confident in the Stewards, That's how I feel," Zarco said. "I don't think it's the right people in the right place. We should have some other people."

While confessing that "when you see the images, maybe [Morbidelli] was closer than I was thinking" Zarco said his main grievance with the Stewards was that, "They put the fault on me because... they thought maybe I could avoid it. But they never asked that question to Franco, 'could you avoid it?' And he could say also, 'seeing Zarco in this position, maybe I could close the gas before, but I don't know where he will go'.

"So yeah, we can be more responsible, but it's not only me. In the same way, we are racing, so when you have the opportunity to overtake a rider, you try to take it. When you think it's correct. And for me, in the straight, for me it was correct to overtake a rider in the straight. And all these things I was explaining to the Stewards."

While few of Zarco's fellow riders have come strongly to his defence following Sunday's accident - the general consensus among them being that the Frenchman was careless in moving across in front of Morbidelli at such high speeds, but that the move was not deliberately dangerous - others have also raised doubts about the Stewards panel.

Among them was Factory Ducati's Danilo Petrucci, who said on Thursday:

"I think most MotoGP riders are not happy about what Race Direction [the MotoGP Stewards panel] does, especially because there are many accidents, especially that happen not at the front, that are not judged like the guys at the front. There are some accidents in MotoGP that are judged differently to Moto3. We have to talk in the Safety Commission, for sure there are many things to fix about that.

"But I must say it's not easy to take a decision because all the riders have many different points of view. So when you take a decision, maybe not all the people involved are happy. But for sure at the moment all the MotoGP riders are not, let's say, happy about this situation. But we cannot do anything. I don't think we can say 'we don’t like the Stewards, we have to change it'. It's not like this... We have to talk to them and try to fix the situation."

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro may have clashed with Petrucci during last Saturday's qualifying, but they were in agreement on the issue of treating all riders the same and giving consistent punishments.

"Every rider in the Safety Commission isn’t super happy. I know it’s not easy but what we are asking, and what makes us feel uncomfortable, we think it’s always different, not always equal with the same actions. It depends if the rider crashes or not. It depends if the rider is leading or not. It depends if the rider is in Moto3 or MotoGP," Espargaro said.

"The rule is the rule. It doesn’t matter if it’s two guys fighting for 20th place in Moto3 or whether it’s Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi in MotoGP. The rule is the rule. It has to be more equal. I think we can improve on this side. Also I feel in some actions I don’t agree with them at all. But especially the equality is what we can improve the most."

Meanwhile, Morbidelli said today that the incident with Zarco is now a closed chapter and he has 'nothing but friendship' for the #5.

"I saw [Franco] before the Safety Commission meeting, we didn't speak about the crash, just about how we were feeling physically," Zarco said.

"After the crash, Franco thought he'd be less able than me to go on the bike again because he was the one down on the floor and I was up quickly. But it's me that is injured and he could ride today, but he also has some pain and is bruised in many places.

"It has been a bad moment that we want to delete from our minds."

 

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