The day of glory has finally arrived. for Johann Zarco! The Frenchman won the first Grand Prix of his career in the MotoGP category on Saturday in Australia, ahead of the Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who increased his lead. his lead at the top of the championship.
The 33-year-old from Avignon, who is competing in his seventh season in the premier category of MotoGP, will have waited for his 120th Grand Prix to finally achieve his first success and become the fifth Frenchman to win in MotoGP.
“The feeling is incredible. I made a good start and I had to fight a lot. When I was behind Pecco (Bagnaia), I held on to stay in contact. We saw that Jorge Martin slowed down a lot and I tried to pass”, he explained directly.
“After so many races, finally winning gives me so many emotions… I still have difficulty realizing “, added the Frenchman before taking the first step of the podium.
Frenchman Johann Zarco celebrates the first victory of his career, during the Australian motorcycle GP, on October 21, 2023 at Phillip Island © AFP – WILLIAM WEST
Double Moto2 world champion (2015, 2016), Zarco, who had already obtained 19 podiums including 4 this season, finally obtained a victory that was denied to him aboard his Ducati-Pramac, the best bike in the field which he will soon no longer ride.
The Frenchman will indeed continue his career in MotoGP in the Honda-LCR team where he will have a hard time reaching the top as the Japanese bike is in difficulty this season.
– Martin, lost bet –< /p>
On Saturday, Zarco took advantage of the risky gamble attempted by his Spanish teammate Jorge Martin, who had started from pole position but lost everything on the last lap and finished fifth.
The Spaniard, who is now 27 lengths behind Bagnaia in the championship, had decided to fit a soft tire at the rear, unlike most of his opponents who had chosen a medium tire, but he did not hold the distance.
Spaniard Jorge Martin during the Australian motorcycle GP, October 21, 2023 on the Philipp Island circuit © AFP – WILLIAM WEST
Martin, however, had a very good start and quickly widened the gap on the South African Brad Binder (KTM) and the Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati-Gresini), who started in sixth. He was more than three seconds ahead of his pursuers, but this gap melted like snow in the sun in the last ten laps.
“I have a lot of regrets because it wasn't the right choice, but that's how it is. It wasn't far away. The end was very complicated, I did everything I could but I “I had no more rhythm. I have to stay focused on myself and try to react tomorrow during the sprint”, he declared at the microphone of Canal+.
The Madrilenian, who had fallen then that he was leading the Indonesian GP last weekend, made another bad operation while Bagnaia is the big beneficiary of the day.
– Bagnaia big winner –
The Italian Bagnaia in the fight with the Frenchman Johann Zarco, during the Australian motorcycle GP, on the Philpp Island circuit, October 21, 2023 © AFP – WILLIAM WEST
The Italian, long fourth and even fifth a few laps from the finish, took advantage of Zarco overtaking Martin to rush into the gap and secure a precious second place which allowed him to increase his lead over the Spaniard at the head of the standings by nine points. championship.
“Johann was very strong and when he overtook I tried to pass too. I was hoping to be able to try to overtake him but he had a superb race and he deserved the victory more than me today. It's good to “having increased my lead but I keep my feet on the ground, I know that things can change very quickly”, underlined the Turinese.
Di Giannantonio also took his chance and finished third ahead of Binder , thus landing the first podium of his career in MotoGP.
The other Frenchman, Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), had a complicated race: starting in 16th position, he finally took an anonymous 14th place, a week after his podium in Indonesia (3rd).
The Grand Prix had been brought forward to Saturday by the championship organizers due to a strong wind alert issued for Sunday. The sprint (13 laps), initially scheduled for Saturday, will take place on Sunday (1 p.m. local, 4 a.m. French) if weather conditions permit.
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