MotoGP: Zarco makes history with debut podium at home

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New MotoGP sensation Johann Zarco has made history by taking an incredible home podium after only five races in the premiere class, inheriting second place in the French Grand Prix when Valentino Rossi crashed out of the race at Le Mans.

Coming good on his promise from before the weekend that it would be possible to reward the home crown with a top three finish, Zarco looked almost faultless during Sunday’s race as he first led then settled back in third to watch the fireworks between Rossi and teammate Maverick Viñales in front of him.

But, speaking after the race, Zarco says that despite the pace for the result coming to him seemingly quite easy, it was a difficult weekend for the double Moto2 world champion.


“The result feels so good and there are many words that I could use, but today has been just great. The conditions were perfect for me in the race with the soft tyre and it was fantastic that I was able to run the pace that I did and to also lead a GP again. I had one flashback of Qatar in my mind, yet, everything was better here than there!

“Viñales passed me on the 7th lap and from that moment I was just happy to stay with him, and he was fast, but I think that this was the key for me to getting the podium. Rossi was also strong, but it’s a bit complicated to fight in Le Mans because the track is tight, so I was thinking that even though 3rd at the time was fantastic, if they fight like that, maybe something will happen and I can get a better position, and this came true. My result is super and it was so much fun today. The crowd made a lot of noise and there was positive energy. I didn’t feel it at the time, but now I realise that they brought me to the top and now I need to enjoy this moment.”

And while he’s been adamant since before his debut that his role is one of learning in his rookie year not fighting for championship position, he heads to the next round in Mugello in a very healthy fifth.

“I’m a rookie and I am not looking at the Championship and the most important thing is to finish races and collect points, and today I got 20, which is fantastic. I am living in the present and enjoying every round, so if this second place gives me a good advantage in the standing, then I will take it.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer