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Backtracking on tyre gamble led to Zarco’s “hero or zero” Silverstone MotoGP crash

Autosport logo Autosport 2022/08/07 Lewis Duncan
Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing © Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing

The Frenchman started on pole at Silverstone for Sunday’s 20-lap race and was among the strongest on race pace throughout practice.

He came to the grid with a soft front tyre fitted to his satellite Ducati, but made a late switch to the medium – which was the tyre Ducati counterpart Francesco Bagnaia won on – as he was worried how the hotter temperatures would affect the softer option.

While he managed to grab the holeshot and lead in the early laps, Zarco crashed out at Vale corner on the fifth tour before ultimately retiring on lap nine.

Zarco says he felt he could get the medium tyre to the finish despite finding a little less grip on it, so was “surprised” to have this crash.

“So, no chance for me today,” he said, having felt on Saturday that he had “more chances than usual” to win after taking pole on Saturday.

“The warm temperature pushed me to take this medium front, which was a good tyre anyway because Pecco won on it.

“But it seems for me it has been the reason for the crash, because always there’s a bit less grip with this tyre.

“But I was too worried to go with the soft and to not finish the race with a good pace because overall I knew I could keep a good pace.

“The medium one I know pretty well, that’s why I was quite confident and the first laps were pretty good.

“But I have been surprised in Turn 8 and clearly I’m disappointed. It’s pretty hard to put all the things together to get the victory.

“I hope I will be in good form again in Austria, because what I could feel again this weekend and during the race helped me to grow on the Ducati and get even more feeling as I want.

“So, the positive of today is this feeling I could take during the race and understand even more this tyre that sometimes seems a tricky choice because for nothing you can be hero or zero. That’s kind of hard.”

When asked if he had any warning from the tyre before his crash, Zarco added: “A little bit yes, but I was thinking that anyway the more laps we’re going to do the better it’s going to be.

“The first two laps were quite fast and I slowed down a bit on the third lap.

“But I could feel well the things and find my pace. But as I say I’ve been surprised because I came into that corner much faster during the practice staying on the bike and this time I couldn’t.”

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Zarco’s wait for a maiden victory in MotoGP goes on because of his Silverstone crash, which has brought “sadness” – though he admits the fact he felt so good on the bike is a major boost to take with him to Austria in two weeks’ time.

“It was important to have a good start and lead the race,” he said.

“So even this has been a surprise to stay first at the first corner. No one was attacking me too much, so was nice to lead the race.

“The first thought is this sadness to miss this chance, but then I cannot stay on it so that’s why I look forward to being in Austria.”

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