Opinion: Doing The Right Thing - The Different Trajectories Of Johann Zarco And Jorge Lorenzo

What are you to do if you find yourself stuck on a bike you know you can't ride? On a bike which you are convinced is trying to hurt you, and which you keep falling of every time you try to push? The obvious answer is you try to leave as soon as possible. But that simple answer hides a host of factors which make leaving not as easy as it looks. The cases of Jorge Lorenzo and Johann Zarco illustrate that very well.

First of all, why would a rider want to leave a factory ride? The pay is good, rarely less than seven figures. Riders have a chance to shape the bike and point development in a direction which suits them. They are treated, if not like royalty, then at least like nobility: transport is arranged and rearranged pretty much at their whim, picked up at their front doors before a race and deposited there again afterward. The pressure is high, but in a factory team, they do everything they can to take the strain and let their riders concentrate on riding.

That is little consolation when the going gets really tough. When you are struggling to get inside the top ten, despite giving your all to try to make the bike go faster. When you are crashing at twice, three times your normal rate. When factories are slow to bring updates to the bike. Or even worse, when they bring boxes and boxes of new parts, and none of those parts make much of a difference to your results.

Gravel rash on repeat

How tough can it get? In 2009, while Valentino Rossi was riding a Yamaha, he crashed 4 times during the season, the same number of times he had fallen the year before. In 2010, he crashed 5 times, though one of those crashes was enough to break his leg and take him out of competing for four races. In 2011, the year he switched to Ducati, he crashed 12 times. When you are not used to falling, that can put a real dent in your confidence. What's more, he scored just a single podium that year, compared to ten, including two wins, the year before.

Jorge Lorenzo and Johann Zarco find themselves in similar situations. Zarco has fallen off the KTM 11 times this year in 11 rounds, compared to 9 times in 19 rounds last year, and 12 times in his entire rookie season. Lorenzo has crashed on the Honda 6 times in 7 races, having missed the rounds since Assen. That's the same number of crashes he had during all of 2018 in the 14 races he competed in.

Johann Zarco had three podiums in 2018, and three the year before that. So far, his best result has been a tenth place at Barcelona, though he started from the front row of the grid after a damp qualifying at Brno. Jorge Lorenzo is yet to even get into the top ten, coming off a season of three wins and a podium with Ducati in 2018, and three podiums in his maiden season with the Italian factory in 2017. For both Zarco and Lorenzo, their situations are dire.

Fresh fields

So their best course of action is to try to leave. Both men tried to do just that during the Brno-Red Bull Ring double header over the past two weekends, and their choices set them on two very different career courses. Jorge Lorenzo chose to stay at Repsol Honda once it became clear that Ducati couldn't clear the way for him to take Jack Miller's ride at Pramac Ducati. Johann Zarco decided he couldn't face another year of failure on the KTM, his front-row start at Brno convincing him he could still be fast when conditions were right. Zarco asked KTM to rescind the second year of his contract, releasing him at the end of 2019.

Which is the smart choice? The simple answer is neither. Team relationships are all about trust. Trust in your crew chief, that they are working to find you the best setup. Trust in your mechanics, that they will double check everything and not make a mistake for which you could pay a painful and physical price. Trust in the factory engineers, that they will listen to your feedback and build a bike you can ride, and trust in team management that they will push the factory engineers to work to find the solutions to your problems. Any attempt to leave ruptures that trust, and, as a Dutch saying has it, trust arrives by foot and leaves on horseback. Rebuilding trust is a difficult thing to do.

Singing it out

That is especially the case for Jorge Lorenzo. It was Lorenzo who approached team manager Albert Puig about riding for the Repsol Honda team. HRC flew Lorenzo to Japan to help speed up his adaptation to the RC213V, and the production of parts to get him more comfortable on the bike. He rewarded that attention by flirting with Ducati, contacting Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna to see if there was a possibility of returning, allowing that attempt to become public knowledge, and only commit to Honda again after a phone call from Alberto Puig.

With all that trust gone, Lorenzo will return to the fold at Honda in Silverstone. He will then have to ride through his contract for 8 more races this year, and a further 20 races next season. Both sides know that Lorenzo is set to leave Honda at the end of that period, barring a sudden transformation in the way the Honda RC213V behaves. So HRC cannot tell Lorenzo too much, for fear of what he might pass on to his next team (most likely Ducati, maybe Yamaha). Honda bosses and team staff will be wary of building a relationship with Lorenzo, aware that he will be gone soon enough.

Contrast this with Johann Zarco. The Frenchman made his decision to leave KTM some time in the week between Brno and Austria, and once his mind was made up, he told KTM bosses Pit Beirer and Stefan Pierer. He will be leaving at the end of the season, so to an extent he has the same problem as Jorge Lorenzo. With Zarco on his way out, team management and his crew know their time together is limited, and will make less of an effort to build a relationship which everyone knows is coming to an end.

Tactically stupid, strategically smart

And yet there is a difference. In the case of Lorenzo, he has another full year to go, and his marriage to Honda has more than a whiff of 'sticking together until the kids have grown up' for it to be healthy. If he was leaving at the end of the year, the relationship would be clear. As it is, Lorenzo and Repsol Honda have a very long time still to spend together, while all around them, speculation is rife over who Lorenzo will go ride for, and who Honda will get in to replace him with.

Things are easier for Zarco. Once the team accepts his decision, they know he will be gone. The decision is not much different to any rider who chooses to leave at the end of a contract. There is an erosion of trust, sure, but there is usually some mutual respect. Especially for a decision which is as risky and difficult as Zarco's.

If anything, Zarco's decision is more reminiscent of Cal Crutchlow's decision to leave Ducati after just one year of his two-year deal to ride in the factory team. Though the decision was not popular with Ducati at the time, Crutchlow and Ducati are still on good terms.

Despite the problems Jorge Lorenzo's actions have created for himself, in career terms, Lorenzo made the better choice. Both in terms of strategy and perception, Lorenzo did the right thing to hang on inside Honda for another year when it became clear there was no room for him at Ducati. Firstly, he made the right choice because there were no other options for 2020 at the time, forcing him effectively into early retirement, instead of hanging on and looking for somewhere to land in 2021.

Secondly, because team managers tend to respect riders more when the grit their teeth and push through. It was clear early on that Valentino Rossi's time at Ducati would be only temporary, but Rossi gained the respect of many for sitting out the full two years of his contract. As long as Lorenzo knuckles down and tries to improve his results without obviously giving up, he will get another chance.

A leap in the dark

Johann Zarco, on the other hand, may well have ended his career. By quitting at the end of 2019, he leaves himself with nowhere to go. Everyone bar Takaaki Nakagami is under contract for 2020, and Nakagami will almost certainly agree terms with HRC in the next couple of weeks. There are no seats in MotoGP available for 2020, which leaves Zarco with only the option of Moto2, WorldSBK, or spending a year as a test rider.

When he announced he was leaving, he said he hoped to have news of his future by Silverstone. This seems rather optimistic: there is no room in MotoGP, and unless he has already decided to move back to Moto2 (where there are plenty of teams willing to have him, it seems, including the Petronas squad, if rumor is to be believed). But wherever he ends up, he will not find it easy to get back into MotoGP.

Why not? Zarco has everything against him. The Frenchman made a huge impact when he entered MotoGP, leading his very first race, getting on the front row and finishing on the podium in just his fifth race. It seemed only a matter of time before he won a race on the Tech3 Yamaha.

But that never happened. And when he switched to KTM, he was signed to lead the project and try to get the RC16 on the podium. That hasn't happened either, Pol Espargaro having comprehensively beaten Zarco in just about every way at KTM. Try as he might, Zarco simply could not find a way to ride the RC16, and was beaten not just by his teammate, but also by MotoGP rookie Miguel Oliveira riding in the Tech3 satellite team.

So the memory team managers will have of Johann Zarco is of a rider who gave up when faced with a tough challenge, a rider who was nearly successful, but couldn't quite pull off a win on the Yamaha, the easiest bike to ride on the grid. When they come to make their choices for 2021, he will have those strikes against him.

No series for old men

Making things even worse for Zarco is his age. Right now, he is 29. By the time he is talking to MotoGP teams for 2021, he will be 30. When MotoGP team managers look for new riders, they look for one of two things: either an established champion with a record of winning, or an up-and-coming youngster they believe they can shape into a future champion, or at least a race winner.

Johann Zarco is neither of those things. Jorge Lorenzo may be three years older than Zarco, but he has three MotoGP titles, 47 premier class wins, and a proven record on both the Yamaha and Ducati, where he might get another chance. Zarco has six podiums on a Yamaha, and Fabio Quartararo has already matched Zarco's rookie podium tally, and looks like being on his way to more.

Fabio Quartararo is a problem in another respect as well. Dorna wanted a successful French rider in MotoGP to help them market the sport in France. For the past two years, that rider was Johann Zarco. But Quartararo is younger, arguably faster, livelier, more fun. He is a cheerful young lad, where Zarco can be a little too earnest. Where Zarco comes out with philosophical aphorisms, Quartararo is quick with a joke and a witty quip. The latter is much easier to sell to casual sports fans.

Looking to 2021, there is likely to be an influx of young riders from Moto2 to fill the grid in MotoGP, as older riders move on. Zarco will be competing with the likes of Lorenzo Baldassarri, Jorge Navarro, Alex Márquez, Luca Marini, Enea Bastianini, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Remy Gardener, Augusto Fernandez. MotoGP team managers will be more inclined to take a chance on a young rider and hope for a big upside, rather than risk taking Zarco, a rider with a known upside but serious flaws.

Is it the end?

Do I think Johann Zarco deserves another shot in MotoGP? Absolutely. On the right bike, he can compete for podiums and wins. But I fear that the Frenchman's decision to leave KTM at the end of the year without an obvious destination will mean he won't necessarily get one. He is only a known quantity on the Yamaha, which leaves the Petronas squad as the only obvious destination (especially after Suzuki promised him a contract, then pulled out of the deal a few months later).

Do Petronas want to take their chance on Zarco, or give the ride to a younger rider? That is not an easy question to answer. They might feel that Zarco is their best chance of success, or they may want a younger rider. There are no guarantees for Zarco.

Teams of other manufacturers are likely to be even more wary of the Frenchman. He left KTM, so what guarantee do they have that he will see out his contract, or be able to ride a very different bike to the Yamaha? They may feel their chances are better with other, potentially more adaptable riders.

Seen from the perspective of the press room, Zarco appears to have few options. I fear that this year will be the last time we see the Frenchman in the MotoGP class. He may come to regret his decision to leave KTM. Then again, Zarco being of a particularly philosophical bent, there is every chance he won't, and he may be happy as the man to beat in Moto2. Only time will tell.


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Total votes: 28
Total votes: 39

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Comments

I think, for once, you're wide off the mark here David. I've yet to see any evidence of all the stupid speculation surrounding Lorenzo to believe it was any more than a summer break hype for journalists to have something to write about. Column inches filler. And even granting Lorenzo's supposed phone call to Ducati I see no reason why Honda would care. Nothing in their communication hinted at even any hint of doubt that Lorenzo would stay.

And you're also falling foul of the 'you're only as good as your last race'-fallacy, as most fans and especially journalists do. Honda is not stupid, they brought in Lorenzo for a reason. They don't operate based on simple emotions, they care about results. They want to go back to the mid-90s where Repsol Hondas dominated the races. And they know Lorenzo is the only one besides Marquez who can deliver that. He will get podiums. Even wins if Marquez fails. Suggesting that the whole relationship is tainted because of some manufactured summer break drama is incredibly silly.

I agree with what you wrote about Zarco.

Total votes: 56

It's a brutal sport. You spend your childhood demolishing every race org you come into, and then once you achieve your dream of reaching the highest level of the sport it becomes a nightmare. And with all the sacrifices it takes to reach this point, these guys often have no plan B. 

Lorenzo will be fine. I really feel for Johann and hope he finds joy after MotoGP.

Total votes: 21

Suzuki should field a satellite squad and put Zarco on it with factory support.  If he can ride the Yamaha well he can ride the Suzuki.  And as David pointed out with Valentino on the Ducati, stick it out, it’s the right thing to do for both factory and rider.  Interesting that Rossi’s decision to leave Ducati, when they wouldn’t listen to his development early on, only to relent and start using a twin spar, but it was too late.  This decision forced Ducati to rethink their entire Ducati Corse program, hire Gigi, and reorganize.  Valentino’s decision had a heavy hand in their success today.  It took that failure for Ducati to change.  Many of us knew Zarco would fail.  When he announced his decision, and said or made comments about it not being smart to hop on the Repsol and try to beat Marc on Marc’s bike, I had no idea that it was his manager that screwed that possibility up.  

Total votes: 24

...if Suzuki could put together the funds, or Zarco could deliver some sponsorship, that just might be his best case scenario.  Its not hard to imagine him scything through corners on that bike.

Total votes: 3

I think you are correct, David, and it's very sad for MotoGP in general. In my opinion, Zarco is a clear step ahead of Pol when it comes to talent, and as you say on the right bike he strikes me as somebody who can win races. I've never once thought that about Pol in the MotoGP class.

Zarco was awesome to watch on the Yamaha, and from a fan's point of view, MotoGP will be a poorer place without him.

Total votes: 20

Both are ex Moto2 champs and Pol also showed good form on the Tech 3 Yam, during a period that was arguably even more competitive. In fact a lot of rookies have done ok on that bike but not acheived much else. The way Pol has been riding the KTM is deeply impressive IMO.  At times he is nothing short of spectacular to watch, you just don't see him as much because the KTM isn't really a top 10 bike. I'd love to see what Pol could achieve on a top factory bike, like say Lorenzo's  Repsol Honda. I wasn't surprised to see Pol annihilate Zarco at KTM, he's very underrated IMO.  

Total votes: 11

Let me preface this by saying Pol is one of my favorite guys on the grid. It takes talent to achieve a podium and seal a factory ride in MotoGP and unlike some of his robotic competitors he wears his heart on his sleeve.

But we have to be objective. His 6th place finish in his rookie MotoGP year was largely due to the fact that there were only 5 or so other bikes that could beat a satellite M1. Ducati, especially the satellite bikes, were nowhere. Honda conned its satellite teams into buying that worthless RCV1000. And the absolute back of the field were still made up of those garbage CRT bikes. Once the equipment began to equalize his true position in the paddock began to emerge. 

We also have to take into account that in one year, Zarco achieved 3x the podiums Pol did during 6 years in MotoGP- 3 on the same bike in a much less competitive field where Pol had no podiums, and 3 in a factory squad where he got one in a split wet race. There's a clear gulf in talent between the two, which I hope doesn't come across as bashing Pol, but has to be the basis on which they are compared.

Total votes: 11

I don't disagree with much of what you are saying here David, it is a legitimate perspective. It could be more complete though with the adding of others that are complimentary, more is also at play.

If Zarco STAYED on the KTM dragging off of the bottom of the MotoGP ladder, what of that? Worse. His career was already ending. Painfully. In a long dragged out suffering. His old shite manager put him in that deal and a match made in hell. Everyone knows what that bike and this match is like. We haven't forgotten his Tech3 time. He is a PROVEN fantastic fit on Yamaha who would could get on and excell from the go. Brivio knows he could do the same on his bike. And itvwas not Davide with issues about Zarco, but the other way around and that was years ago. Before the Orangesplosion. We can trust Zarco just fine thanks, just not on a KTM or Honda. We don't know on the Ducati, but we NEVER do about any rider do we?

Lorenzo, trust, and Puig/Honda is something that can be hedged. Puig we can trust to be a back stabbing jerk. Honda we can trust to only value Jorge to the degree that he performs. There is not much respect or trust there for Lorenzo to have disrupted, is there? So far, things are rather crap for both sides of that dance. Jorge, like every other Honda rider besides Marc, isn't getting a bike that is coming towards their wishes for front end feel that they NEED to thrive. They get a bike made for bronco-busting 2 wheel-skating Marquez. With a Duc beating motor. Honda hasn't looked great in getting riders what they need, that bike tried to throw Marquez until just recently. Then the 2019 bike took a worse turn than last year for handling and feel. Riders can trust that they won't be able to trust the front of the bike, nor HRC to offer improvements there soon. (The bike will improve in handling, it is in transition, but the dynamic between riders and Honda is as such).

Lorenzo gained some honesty in his response to Honda. His answer to them mirrors their approach to him, each is doing a things in THEIR manner and not in the way preferred by the other.

I don't think as much changed in the Lorenzo-Honda relationships. Just made overt. Jorge has to make this bike work w basic adaptations like parts like tanks and set up. HRC has to make that rider work for them in the same capacity that they have been. It isn't about trust as much as results. We are right where we have been, watching for Jorge to come to grips with a wild bike, which he HAD just made a significant improvement with before getting hurt yet again. He is more fun as an underdog, hoping he gets there.

Zarco? The mistake of going Orange can't be undone. He should have swallowed his pride and pursued the Suzuki or Petronas deal instead, but didn't. Now humility and necessity are calling his shots. Zarco got rid of his "manager," then got off of the KTM as soon as he could. Now he can move on. So can KTM. So can we. There isn't a MotoGP ride now avail. Best fit is Yamaha Test/replacement and wildcards. Next is Moto2 where he may clean up nicely and hope for the best. Both are better than 2020 soul and career crushing detritus for him in Orange.

Look, we get Oliveira. The Yamaha is back on track. Quartararo and Petronas are ON and look to continue as such. Bagnaia looks to be figuring out how to ride the NASA tarmac rocket. Dovisioso has thrown all his fuel in the fire again. Wee Suzuki has a great bike, and may be incubating a bigger motor and a Jr Team. (Just Ecstar on the fairings still? Really?!).

Let's shift our gaze. Here now it is to the tele and BSB Cadwell...

(Btw, I have lost some posts due to the continued Illmore placement of the Save button down there causing extra scrolling and possible errant clicks...14 scroll downs, then catch and wiggle scroll back upwards. I don't re-write them)
;)

Total votes: 43

A thoughtful article David and the responses are equally as thoughtful.  One could say that Johann Zarco is an honourable man.  Something that seems a rare commodity, and not just in MotoGP. 

When Zarco joined Tech3 it was off the back of consecutive world championships in the MotoGP class.  Initially, he struggled in Moto2 - on a Motobi in 2012.  He then went to Ioda Racing on a Suter and did slightly better in 2013.  The following year he raced for Caterham - again using a Suter chassis.  Then he re-joined Ajo Motorsport for 2015 (the team he in which raced a 125 Derbi to second place in the 2011 World 125 Championship, runner-up to Nicolas Terol). The Ajo team used a Kalex chassis and with a decent steering bike underneath him, Zarco won the 2015 and 2016 Moto2 Championships. 

A hallmark of his success is that once he arrived at the chassis geometry set-up he liked, he did not let the team change it.  They simply adjusted the suspension for each different track. 

Then he joined Tech3 and got Jorge Lorenzo's 2015-'16 Yamaha YZR-M1s.  That chassis set-up clearly suited him and he scored sixth place in both the 2016 and 2017 MotoGP championships.  Again word from the team was that once he was happy with the chassis set-up he did not change it.  Zarco and Lorenzo appear to be on the same page when it comes to chassis set-up. 

Now look at Pol Expargaro.  He finished his Rookie MotoGP season (2014) sixth in the title chase (on a Tech3 Yamaha) but slumped to ninth in the title standings in 2015.  In 2016 - his third season on a Tech3 Yamaha in MotoGP - he was eighth in the championship.  Then he joined KTM, and plummeted to 17th in the final standings at the end of 2017.  

Right now, Johann Zarco is 17th in the MotoGP title standings.  

So, Espargaro and Zarco have BOTH garnered their best MotoGP results on a satellite Yamaha (Tech 3) and have struggled to replicate that on the KTM.

Espargaro is now in his third season with KTM - a vaunted FACTORY ride - and with that sketchy Austrian V4 he has one podium and one pole position to his name.

The reason we heard for Suzuki not taking up the option it had on Zarco for 2017 was that they considered the then 26-year-old TOO OLD.  So they got all hot and sweaty for 21-year-old Alex Rins.  

Rins had his rookie MotoGP season on the Suzuki in 2017 and on a FACTORY bike finished the season 16th. (Zarco was 6th - remember).  So Rins finished one place ahead of Pol Espargaro in the 2017 title chase - both of them more than 10 places behind Zarco on a SATELLITE bike...

If Suzuki had gone ahead with Zarco in 2017, it is very likely they would have garnered much better results than Rins has been able to deliver.  No question that Zarco is a man who races to win.  On the Suzuki it is likely he would have been much closer to the front in his rookie MotoGP season than Rins. 

If the Petronas Sprinta Racing team is smart they will grab Zarco for a Moto2 ride (Kalex chassis) for 2020 - alongside Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin.  That should also allow the Petronas SIC team to have Zarco test their MotoGP Yamaha in test sessions that do not conflict with their Moto2 testing programme.  Yamaha should be keen on that too.  That would give the Petronas Sprinta team a much better shot of having the Petronas logo on international television.  It would also give the opportunity of moving Zarco (and perhaps Syahrin) back into MotoGP in 2021 - assuming Quartararo joins the factory Yamaha team in 2021 as a replacement for either Vinales or Rossi.

Finally,  I - along with quite a few fellow MotoGP observers - was confident that if Jorge Lorenzo was able to get to grips with the Ducati as quickly as he did then he would adapt to the Honda quite quickly also.

That he hasn't speaks volumes about the chassis set-up he has at Honda - and is also a rather clear indicator that the Ducati is actually a better all-round bike than the current Honda.  

Take away the brilliant Marc Marquez and Honda is nowhere. 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 21

Zarco reminds me of Kenan Sofuoğlu.  Will be interesting to see if he drops back to Moto 2 as Sofuogulo did to SuperSport and becomes a winner again.

Total votes: 1

Based on gigis interview (can't remember where) he stated that he tried to lure Jorge back?

Total votes: 8

I've always found it strange that these guys aren't able to do a try out day on the new ride before signing up. This isn't like you or me starting a new job, where you hope it goes well and if it doesn't, chances are we can jack it in if its crap without it being a career killer. Whereas even for the likes of megastars like rossi or lorenzo, jacking it in after a few months can be a career ending thing.

I get it that teams will have secrets etc, but surely everyone who's anyone in the paddock knows more or less what's going on in the pit garage next door. So, is there really that much to lose by letting a rival try before they buy? Surely this works in the favour of both parties. I mean, jeepers, there is no way on gods earth I'd buy a bike without having first at least ridden the model, and for me the risk is just a few thousand pounds, not millions.

Likewise, it cant be a secret when a rider is thinking of moving elsewhere, so the loss of trust etc arising from that must already be occuring. Besides which, you'd expect teams who want to keep the rider to try extra hard in that scenario. Or not, as the case may be, which speaks volumes.

So is this about custom or rules? Either way it seems silly to me.

Total votes: 21

I am not so sure Jorge Lorenzo is willing to race that much longer unless he can win. He's proven time and time again that he can recover from serious injuries to get back on the grid (perhaps prematurely). But he was younger then and probably more hungry. He suffered through his Ducati adventure and incredibly turned it around to emerge a repeat winner and arguably the fastest man on his team once again. Only to be rewarded by Ducati's CEO stepping in and ushering him out. That is a pretty bitter pill and a hard lesson. I can see JL just walking away from the sport altogether. He achieved his primary goals a long time ago. 

Not sure what to think about Zarco's prospects. Many of us thought his career ended when joined KTM. 

Total votes: 9

Zarco gave up halfway through his first season as a KTM factory rider. Simply put, that is a red flag from the perspective of team managers. As did others before him (Melandri, Hayden, Rossi) Dovizioso expressed confidence in his abilities when he signed with Ducati for 2013. And like many others, Dovizioso was supposedly shellshocked at just how bad the Ducati was. But he stuck with it and now he has been the most consistent challenger to Marquez over the past 2 1/2 seasons. A lot can happen in the next year, but the riders that have impressed me the most in Moto2 this season so far have been Alex Marquez for his maturity and Enea Bastinini who is a real fighter especially at the end of races. Both of these riders with their respective teams have had consistent results. Why choose Zarco over these two or many others from Moto2 for 2021? The biggest potential bummer for KTM is that they don't improve their package more than the rest of the Motogp field improves their packages over the next year and a half. The KTM looks like a bike that when ridden fast it doesn't want to go straight down the straights, but only in the turns - a bike that has to be fought the entire lap. If KTM's developments only match the pace of other teams over the next couple of years then they will still be finishing in the same places - some top tens but no podiums. A team that three years ago targeted some pretty lofty goals for their Motogp program. The biggest bummer for Zarco would be if they do make big improvements in rideability, then poor Johann will look the fool. Not even sure if Zarco could fill in for an injured rider next year since most Motogp teams have test riders. Maybe he could replace Folger (who's not setting the world alight as a substitute rider in Moto2 - zero points in 5 races) as next year's tester at Yamaha. Why abandon ship without a liferaft mid season? The only reason I could see Zarco giving up so early is that he has a seat already lined up in Moto2, and he had to get out from under his KTM contract before they fill up. Otherwise why not stay put, set the ego aside and keep trying? There is a good chance Pedrosa's input will improve the bike.

 

Total votes: 17

As long as one of the few proven challengers is.. "otherwise occupied". Not sure they will care.

Actually, despite the fact that Lorenzo is obviously super high maintenance kinda feel for him. In the modern era of hard management, I'm old enough to have experienced this, he's kinda stuffed. He's got the speed still, needs an outlet 

Total votes: 9

Would be a shame if Petronas took Zarco onto their Moto2 team. Was hoping McPhee had done enough to earn that slot.

Total votes: 6

Zarco seemed to give up on the Yamaha last year when he realised that he'd reached the limit of a already well sorted bike that came with loads of back-up data, and that Tech3 couldn't/wouldn't get any more factory support - reading between the lines, this was the point Tech3/Herve decided to end their Yamaha collaboration(?)

 

Lorenzos' contact with Ducati being made public might well have been a play to see how serious Honda are at giving him a bike that he can ride. I wonder who 'leaked' the details to the outside world? 

Honda would be daft to not develop a bike around his input. At the moment they have a machine that only Marquez can consistantly go race winning fast on, Lorenzo has proven that given time and back-up he can win on 2 marques thus far. It's going to reflect badly on HRC if he can't do the same on their baby, not forgetting they still appear to labour under the impression that it is the bike that wins, not the rider .... 

Total votes: 17

Zarco's decision reflects his commitment to bring his entire self to the project or not participate. It's an honorable decision that deserves our respect.

Zarco's reflected upon what he should do, and made a choice that is not to his benefit in the short term, but fantastic for him as a person in the long term. He followed his conscience and decided to let the chips land where they may.

Total votes: 20

Zarco's decision reflects his commitment to bring his entire self to the project or not participate. It's an honorable decision that deserves our respect.

Zarco reflected upon what he should do, and made a choice that is not to his benefit in the short term, but fantastic for him as a person in the long term. He followed his conscience and decided to let the chips land where they may.

Total votes: 4

Zarco --> If I made seven figures for 1 or 2 seasons (Zarco) and had all of my daily and seasonal expenses covered (my assumption, but likely) AND I was frustrated on a daily basis, what reason would I have for perpetuatiung my misery? None in my book.  I know about the passion and "the feeling" (I get it on my street bike) BUT life IS short especially at those speeds and with those pressures.  If this guy opened a cafe or became a monk I wouldn't think less of him.  He showed up.  He tried.  From his perspective, it's no longer worth it.

Lorenzo --> I believe he is frustrated physically and psychologically (as he's a prolific MotoGP winner already versus Zarco who is only annointed) and was grasping at straws.  

Total votes: 10

I think Pol is underrated too.  On equal machinery he bet Crutchlow quite convincingly (cal was also beaten by Dovi) so he quite possibly is in the not quite alien level although that term has fallen out of favour. Based in his form on the uncompetitive KTM and his satellite Yamaha days vs his peers he’s probably up for a podium or even a win in exceptional circumstances on his best day, just like Cal but not a contender for a title 

Total votes: 6

i agree with others that Zarco on a Suzuki would be really quick but Jorge on a Suzuki - metronomically super quick. Him on a Suzuki would be worth watching.

Total votes: 11

the suzuki satellite team in 2021 should be JL + JZ 

;)

Total votes: 23

Pol is clearly more talented than Zarco on the KTM. The results prove this. If KTM managment was willing, Zarco could have chosen to stick with the project to help develop the bike. Look at the situation as an opportunity rather than a disaster or failure. Maybe trade places with Oliveira for 2020 if KTM so wished and try to develop the bike in the direction that his style would benefit from. Having a bike that the rider must fight in order to get results requires a special breed of rider. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

Total votes: 8

I believe KTM management said, look at the championship winning bike (the honda) we want a bike like that. They have no intention of building a bike like the yamaha or the suzuki.

Total votes: 4

Casey Stoner wrecked a lot of his teammates w/his ability to adapt to any bike he was on.  I think you're seeing the indirect effects of some highly skilled riders having to come to terms with their inability to adapt to different bikes.  I'm still convinced Stoner left Ducati the first time because the I-talians kept saying, "Casey, you winning! no worry, everything good!"  The Lorenzo saga does seem speculative, but Zarco has obviously thrown in the towel.  Groundskeeper Willie may refer to him as a cheese eating, surrender monkey.

Total votes: 2