The Johann Zarco Saga appears to be drawing to a close. The long journey, which started when he announced he would be leaving KTM at the end of 2019, looks to have taken him to Ducati. In an interview for the French magazine Moto Revue, the Frenchman told journalist Michel Turco that he will be racing a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 with the Avintia Racing team in 2020.
Zarco's statements bring to a close a long and confusing chapter in MotoGP. Zarco was summarily dismissed from the Red Bull KTM team on full pay after the race in Misano, the Austrian manufacturer wanting rid of a disruptive factor in the factory team. After Thailand, it emerged that Zarco would be temporarily replacing Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda team after Motegi, to allow the Japanese rider to recover from shoulder surgery in time for the 2020 MotoGP season.
The fallout of qualifying in Sepang is having serious consequences for Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider had a huge highside during Q2, when he was trying to follow Fabio Quartararo. It was plain to see that Marquez banged up his knees and ankles in the crash, but it now appears he also dislocated his right shoulder in the fall.
The injury was serious enough to warrant a full medical examination, and the possibility of surgery to fix the shoulder. At the Jerez test, Marc Marquez told Israeli journalist and TV commentator Tammy Gorali that he would be having his right shoulder examined in Barcelona on Wednesday.
The action was further prompted by Marquez' crash at the Jerez test. On Monday, Marquez crashed in the final corner, and had to be taken to the medical center for further examination. That crash came on top of a highside at Turn 13 during the Valencia test, which also saw him land on his shoulder.
Maverick Viñales ended the final day of the MotoGP test at Valencia as fastest, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider the only person to get into the 1'29s. Viñales led a trio of Yamahas, Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli finishing in second and third.
Marc Marquez is currently fastest on the second day of the test at Valencia, the Repsol Honda rider continuing work on the 2020 bike. Pol Espargaro is in an impressive second place, working on the second iteration of the new steel chassis which KTM have brought for the RC16.
What conclusions can we draw from the first day of testing for the 2020 season? Not much, other than a lot of factories have brought a lot of new parts. And it really does feel like a lot of new parts, with new chassis for KTM, Yamaha, Honda, Ducati, new engines all round, and a host of other bits and pieces in preparation for the new season. New riders, too, with Brad Binder, Iker Lecuona, and Alex Márquez all moving up to MotoGP for 2020.
It is particularly tempting to jump to early conclusions about the rookies. There is a clear pecking order, an easy way of deciding who is adapting quickly, and who is taking their time. By that measure, Iker Lecuona is the man to beat, the Red Bull Tech3 KTM rider finishing just under 1.5 seconds off the leading gaggle of Yamahas at the test. Brad Binder, in the factory Red Bull KTM team, is just under 2.4 seconds behind quickest rider Fabio Quartararo, while the latest addition to the class, Alex Márquez, was last, 2.7 seconds slower than the Petronas Yamaha rider, and nearly 2.2 seconds slower than his brother Marc.
King of the rookies
Fabio Quartararo has ended the first day of the 2020 MotoGP test at Valencia as fastest, despite a big crash in the late afternoon. The Petronas Yamaha rider was a few thousandths faster than the factory Yamaha of Maverick Viñales, and a few hundredths faster than teammate Franco Morbidelli.
Andrea Dovizioso ended the test in fourth, ahead of Marc Marquez and Joan Mir. Alex Rins was seventh quickest, a fraction behind his Suzuki teammate, and just ahead of Pol Espargaro. With Espargaro in eighth, that puts five of the six manufacturers in the top eight.