Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco
Birth Date: 
16 July, 1990

Johann Zarco Biography

With 15 podiums to his credit, including ten as runner-up, Johann Zarco is the most successful MotoGP rider without a race win.

Yet it was the fourth place at Buriram 2022 where Zarco perhaps had his best chance of finally breaking his duck, the Frenchman charging towards the front on a drying track but then hesitating when he caught up with Ducati's title contender Francesco Bagnaia.

The sacrifice wasn't lost on Ducati management, who had saved Zarco's MotoGP career by providing an Avintia Ducati seat for 2020, following his split from KTM.

Zarco will remain with the Pramac Ducati team, on the latest Desmosedici machinery, for a third MotoGP campaign in 2023.

The first and so far only double Moto2 champion, Zarco stormed onto the MotoGP scene in 2017 with Yamaha Tech3.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 (2017 - 2018)

Initially linked with Suzuki, for whom he completed a private MotoGP test during 2016, Zarco was then overlooked for the 2017 GSX-RR race seat in favour of younger Moto2 rival Alex Rins. 

A MotoGP deal was subsequently brokered with Tech3 and Yamaha, with Zarco soon proving a revelation in the premier-class - scoring six podiums, four pole positions, regularly leading races and getting within a fraction of a first ever satellite Yamaha MotoGP win.

Sixth in the world championship in both 2017 and 2018, Zarco had interest from almost every factory for 2019 and his signature (influenced by former manager Laurent Fellon) was seen as something of a coup for KTM.

Red Bull KTM Factory / LCR Honda (2019)

Zarco was tipped to take KTM to new heights, but struggled to adapt to the aggressive nature of the RC16 and then shocked the MotoGP world by asking to be released at the end of the first year of a two-year contract saying happiness was more important than money.

KTM then decided it was better not to wait until the end of the season and replaced him with test rider Mika Kallio for the final six rounds.

But Zarco, who took a best finish on tenth on the RC16, was back on the grid in LCR Honda colours as a replacement for the injured Takaaki Nakagami in the last three races, taking the year-old RCV to 13th place in Australia and qualifying 9th in Sepang.

Avintia Ducati (2020)

The Honda performances didn't lead to a 2020 offer but Zarco had caught the eye of Gigi Dall’Igna, who perhaps spotted similarities between Zarco's style and that of triple Ducati race winner Jorge Lorenzo. But when the best Dorna, the French GP promoter and Ducati could offer was a seat at the Avintia team, on a year old bike, Zarco openly pondered a return to Moto2.

Dall’Igna convinced Zarco that he would get strong technical support and, with Karel Abraham unceremoniously dropped, the Frenchman was hired for 2020.

Zarco went on to make history for Avintia with its first pole and podium during the Covid-delayed season, but also made headlines for the wrong reason as part of the huge accident with Franco Morbidelli in Austria. Soon in a duel with Francesco Bagnaia to take over from Andrea Dovizioso at the factory team in 2021, Zarco made Ducati's decision more difficult with a pair of fifth places in the second half of the season.

Ultimately, Dall’Igna chose Bagnaia for the factory team, but also promoted Zarco to the same 2021-spec machinery with a move to Pramac.

Pramac Ducati (2021 - Present)

There were plenty of positives for Zarco during the 2021 MotoGP season, including a career-best four podiums and leading the world championship for the first time.

But all his rostrums came during the opening seven rounds and, accelerated by three non-scores, the Frenchman suffered a drop of 71-points scored over the second half of the season compared to the first and slipped back to fifth in the final standings.

That was still a personal best for Zarco and new high for a Pramac Ducati rider, but the wait for a race victory - after five seasons in MotoGP - continues. Not that he didn't come close, missing out by just 0.175s to Miguel Oliveira in Catalunya.

Nonetheless, on the other side of the garage, rookie team-mate Jorge Martin also took four podiums (despite missing four races due to injury) and made history with the first ever MotoGP win by a satellite Ducati rider.

Despite issues with the engine character of the GP22, and the distraction of developing Ducati's front ride-height system, Zarco again performed strongly in the opening half of the 2022 season.

The 32-year-old matched his four podiums of the previous year but, once again, the champagne dried out during the second half and this time he slipped down to eighth in the final ranking.

As well as the missed Buriram chance, Zarco saw a potential victory slip away when he fell from the early lead at Silverstone, one of two occasions where he qualified on pole position.

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