MotoGP: Poncheral rules out Zarco as Rossi replacement?

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Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal seems to have ruled out any hopes of his rider Johann Zarco stepping up to replace Valentino Rossi at the Movistar Yamaha squad while the Italian recovers from his broken leg, by reiterating just how important the battle for top independent is to them.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Sam Marino Grand Prix, the Frenchman stressed that his riders are playing an important role within the battle for the independent crown, with rookie Zarco currently leading Cal Crutchlow by only 20 points with six races to go – and unable to score points were he to step up to replace Rossi at Aragon.

“Most importantly, it’s vital that our guys perform well so they fight for the Rookie of the Year title which is highly significant for Johann and Jonas. Currently, we also hold the top independent position and this was not easy or planned when you consider how fast the other riders are, but we are leading this. Therefore, we aim to continue scoring some good points so that we can carry on fighting for this.”


However, despite there being one less factory bike on the grid this weekend with Yamaha not fielding a replacement for Rossi, Poncheral isn’t expecting an easy weekend for his satellite squad.

“Misano is the next event for the MotoGP World Championship and it’s always a very exciting weekend with many fans, hot weather, and a fantastic atmosphere. In addition, it’s a really special circuit and different to the last tracks that we have visited because it’s short as well as anti-clockwise and a place where some riders don’t always have a good feeling.

“Clearly, the factory teams have been testing there, but few independent teams have and certainly not Tech3 but we are ready and excited. Aside from that, the big news is that the national hero, Valentino Rossi will not be on the starting grid due to a very unfortunate off road accident. The atmosphere won’t the same without Valentino, but he is out of the hospital and we hope that he will be able to visit the track for the fans who will support him and aid his recovery process. For Monster Yamaha Tech3, it is going to be another tough race for sure as the level is so high. We have to try to be in the top five but we also have to remember that both of our riders are rookies.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer