Zarco: New Ducati starts 'super-fast' but 'two times out of ten'

Among the surprises of an eventful season-opening MotoGP race in Qatar was the relatively tardy getaway from the grid by the 2022 Ducatis.
Zarco: New Ducati starts 'super-fast' but 'two times out of ten'

At a track where Jorge Martin used the factory's advanced holeshot system to blast from 14th to 4th the previous year, this time around the Pramac rider dropped from pole position to eighth.

Martin was forced to take avoiding action when he and Enea Bastianini, on the race-winning GP21, got too close, but the Spaniard already been passed by both Repsol Hondas.

The other GP22 riders suffered the same fate with Jack Miller slipping from fourth to ninth (but may have already hit technical issues) and factory team-mate Francesco Bagnaia from ninth to 15th. Even VR46's Luca Marini slipped a place from 17th on the grid, with Martin's team-mate Johann Zarco relegated from 13th to 19th.

So what went wrong?

Zarco believes it’s a mix of progress by Ducati's rivals combined with a new 'super fast', but seemingly less consistent, starting system on the GP22.

"It’s true that we were good with the starts last year because we were advanced with the different [starting devices] but then the other brands made improvements and in the second part of the season there were other guys starting really, really fast," Zarco said.

"So it was harder to see a difference and really take advantage. Sometimes you make a step back and that is what happened for me.

"Why did all the Ducati riders start [badly] two weeks ago in Qatar? I don’t really know. Maybe the system was not working perfectly and the others had made improvements and more constancy.

"We are trying to do even better, but maybe we made a step back.

"We have the performance but maybe we have to do more constancy to have more chance to do well every time.

"I can start super-fast but it is only two times out of ten and when if I made those two good starts before a race then it is like a big risk to then say I will start well again. It is not good for the result."

Marini explained that precision with the clutch can be tricky.

"With the '22, we didn’t start well but I don’t think it’s something from the bike. Maybe we were just not precise. Because the clutch is so difficult to use," he said. "If you miss the correct point it’s difficult to recover. You just make a mistake and lose some tenths in the start. Maybe it’s this. We will see here.

"The Ducati also from last year [GP19], you had to be perfect [with the clutch]. You can be perfect, but it’s difficult."

While Ducati is alone in having a front (as well as rear) ride-height system for use on corner exit, all six MotoGP manufacturers now have both front and rear holeshot systems for the race start.

Nonetheless, Zarco overcame his initial disadvantage to charge all the way to eighth at the chequered flag, meaning he was the best GP22 and second best Ducati after Bastianini.

The Frenchman's advance had been aided by an accident for Bagnaia, which also took down Martin. That incident aside, Bagnaia felt he had not been fully prepared for the race due to too much testing work in free practice.

"That is the hard job of being an official rider, a factory rider," said Zarco. "Even if we have things to test in Pramac, because we have the factory bikes too, but being part of a brand like Ducati we know there are many things we can try – maybe more than a Japanese brand.

"When things are working it seems we have an advantage on everybody. But when things work less then we begin to wonder maybe we are doing too much? But then you can also go Yamaha style where we can say that they never improve the engine… It is always this balance.

"After the race you can comment like this and if there were more tests we could test things. Yes we had two days in Malaysia and three days here [in Mandalika] but three days here was like only one day, because the first two were about the track [conditions] and it makes the situation hard to handle."

Free practice for the Mandalika round begins on Friday mroning.

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