2019 Silverstone MotoGP Results and News (Updated)

Michael Scott | August 25, 2019

2019 Silverstone MotoGP Results and News

Sunday

MotoGP Race – 20 laps, 118.000 km

Rins-Silverstone-Sun-2019
Suzuki’s Alex Rins scored his second-career MotoGP victory in a thrilling finish at Silverstone. (Gold & Goose photo)

For a second race in a row, the dominant Marc Marquez got his nose wiped in the final corner. The winner this time was compatriot Alex Rins on the Ecstar Suzuki, who had hounded the Repsol Honda for the full race distance over 20 complicated laps of the longest track of the year.

A sun-baked and resurfaced Silverstone made up for last year’s flood-cancelled debacle for a record number of fans, with a race full of tension, although depleted by a first-corner crash that took out two important players.

Star-studded rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), leading the second row of the grid, lost the rear and slid straight into third-row starter Andrea Dovizioso, whose Mission Winnow Ducati looped spectacularly and caught fire as the riders tumbled through the run-off.

Last-corner drama sealed off the battle of Britain. Marquez had led throughout, but for a brief spell, when his race-long shadow Rins was ahead for two corners. On the last lap, he was clearly on the limit as he continued to hold him at bay.

The crucial attack came in the last right-hander, when the Suzuki’s conspicuously better corner grip allowed Rins to edge through on the inside, half-a-bike’s length ahead over the line.

It was the Spaniard’s second win of the year, but the first came in America after Marquez had crashed out. This was an epic victory, by 0.013 of a second.

“I was so close to a big mistake,” the jubilant rider said. “Two laps from the end I thought it was the last lap, so I passed Marc … but he got me back. But I knew I was faster in the last corner.”

Marquez’s consolation was a new lap record, and a massive 78-point lead in the championship, over non-scorer Dovizioso. “To lose on the last corner is not a good feeling, but I am happy about the championship. I kept pushing because I was afraid the Yamaha riders might catch us, and take away important points.” Before the weekend, talking about his narrow defeat in Austria a fortnight ago, he had said: “To win the war you have to lose some battles.”

Their battle allowed third-placed Maverick Vinales to edge up to within just over half-a-second, after passing Monster Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, qualified on the front row, on the seventh lap. Rossi was losing ground at the end, but stayed seventh, ahead of top independent-team rider Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha).

Five seconds back, LCR Castrol Honda rider Cal Crutchlow eventually triumphed in a long to-and-fro battle with Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati), the third front-row starter … then the Australian lost seventh on the last lap to slow-away factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci.

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) was ninth, clear by the end of what had been a big mid-field battle. Andrea Iannone was now adrift in tenth; Aprilia team-mate Aleix

Espargaro had been a late retirement, while fellow KTM riders Johann Zarco and Miguel Oliveira crashed out, after the former made an ill-judged overtaking move.

Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) was 14th, giving way on the last lap to Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM), but in the points after an eight-week absence.

Marquez now has a round 250 points, Dovizioso 172; then Rins 149, Petrucci 145 and Vinales 118.

Moto2 Race – 18 laps, 106.200 km

Fernandez-Silverstone-Sun-2019
Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox Kalex) scored a close win in Moto2 at Silverstone. (Gold & Goose photo)

There was another Marquez upset in what was unusually the last race of the day, when younger brother Alex brought his purple patch to an end, leading away from fellow-Spaniard Jorge Navarro, only to slip off on the sixth lap.

“It was my mistake. I braked too late,” said the EG-VDS Kalex rider ruefully, with the consolation being that his earlier nearest title rival Thomas Luthi was no better than eighth.

On the other hand, he now has two new challengers.

Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox Kalex) finally prevailed over Navarro (Campetella Speed Up) after a find four-way battle including also Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex), all over the line in 1.7 seconds.

Now Navarro and two-times winner Fernandez are equal on points with Luthi, with 146 apiece, just 35 adrift of Marquez.

Fernandez claimed a final new record on the penultimate lap.

Second ONEXOX Kalex rider Tetsuta Nagashima had dropped out of touch in the closing stages in fifth. Another five seconds behind, second Speed Up rider Fabio Di Giannantonio regained sixth from Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox Kalex) on the last lap, a second ahead of Luthi’s Dynavolt Kalex.

The Kalexes of Luca Marini and Xavi Vierge completed the top ten; American rider Joe Roberts (KTM) was 22nd.

Binder’s fourth podium in five races moved him to fifth overall in the championship.

Moto3 Race – 17 laps, 100.300 km

Ramirez-Silverstone-Sun-2019
Marcos Ramirez (42) came through in the final laps to take the victory in Moto3 at Silverstone. (Gold & Goose photo)

The wide-open spaces laid on a typical thriller for the first race of the day, with a big pack fanning out for outbraking moves at the end of the Hangar Straight. Title leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta did most of the leading over the line, but it was his Leopard Honda team-mate Marcos Ramirez who came through in the final laps, and seized the lead on the final lap.

Dalla Porta’s podium record was preserved and his points lead extended, with third place, while his closest rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) was a distant 13th, after a brilliant recovery ride. He was knocked off in the early stages by a tumbling Albert Arenas, and rejoined in last place.

In between the Leopard riders, another Honda – of Snipers rider Tony Arbonlino, who had qualified on pole.

The top ten were over the line inside 1.3 seconds. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) was a close fourth, from team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki; then Petronas Honda team-mates Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee, who had been a contender for the win earlier before a soft rear tyre choice cost him the chance.

Two more team-mates completed the group on the first KTMs – SKY VR46 riders Dennis Foggia and Celestino Vietti; with fellow rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) next, who had led a couple of times out in the country.

Dalla Porta now leads Canet 171 to 157; with Arbolino closing on second on 133; then Antonelli 118 and Ramirez 114.

Saturday

MOTOGP QUALIFYING

Silverstone-MotoGP-Qualifying-2019
Marc Marquez (center) smashed the track record and scored the MotoGP pole Saturday at Silverstone. Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller also qualified on the front row for Sunday’s British GP. (Gold & Goose photo)

It looked like it would be another battle between Quartararo and Marquez in qualifying … then a thrilling final few minutes brought other players in to mix and match.

It was Marquez and the Repsol Honda who played the time and tactics best. Cannily tucked in behind Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha), whose earlier lap had been cancelled and who had one last chance to get a decent time, Marquez smashed the record yet again to take his eighth pole of the season, bringing his tally up to 60 percent: 60 poles in 120 races.

His time of 1m 58.168 was yet another new record on the resurfaced track with, at 5.9 km, the longest lap of the year.

Rossi’s own time put him a delighted second, his first time on the front row since round three in Texas … albeit four tenths down on Marquez.

And he was a matter of thousandths, six of them, that he was ahead of Pramac rider Jack Miller, who was again top Ducati. It was the Australian’s third front-row of his first season on a full factory bike.

Quartararo’s Petronas Yamaha was only a hundredth away to lead the second row. It might have been different had he not had to switch to his spare bike, after pitting with his preferred bike gesticulating at a row of flashing warning lights.

Marquez explained his tactics for his second run, having already set a good banker lap. “We watched from the pits and there was may traffic, but in that traffic I was in front I the results, so I think – it is somebody else has to push, not me. Then at the end Rossi was in front, and I was able to take advantage.”

Rossi laughed. “I had to do the dirty job, but I had just this chance, and not a lot of time. In the end the bike is working well, we have good grip, and I enjoyed leading the lap.”

Miller had used Marquez as a marker, and “for sure it helps.” After trouble with his number one bike in the morning and again in the afternoon, “I am on the old chassis for the first time since Brno, and it felt a little foreign.”

Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) had come through from Q1 to challenge for the front row, and ended up a close fifth, narrowly ahead of Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha).

The late action pushed Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) to head the third row. Dovi had also come through from Q1.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) was next, then Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda), who lost his chance to improve with a tumble on potentially his best lap.

MOTO2 QUALIFYING

Marquez-Alex-Silverstone-Sat-2019
Alex Marquez won the Silverstone pole in the Moto2 class. (Gold & Goose photo)

For a third time this season, younger brother Alex Marquez made pole position into a family affair. The championship leader’s EG-VDS Kalex had a narrow but valuable edge over free practice leader Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up), the Spaniard 0.043 of a second behind his compatriot.

A third Spaniard, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox Kalex) completed the front row, thwarting the hopes of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) by just over a tenth of a second. Gardner, second-fastest here last year, leads row two from Xavi Vierge (EG-VDS Kalex) and Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex); Gardner’s team-mate Tetsuta Nagashima heads the third row.

Alongside him, Brad Binder, the Red Bull rider not just the top KTM by a margin, but also the top rider through from Q1.

Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex) is ninth, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Campetella Speed Up) completes the top ten.

Other fancied runners are close on time, but not on the grid: erstwhile points leader Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) 12th, and team-mate Marcel Schrotter (another through from Q1) 13th. Another erstwhile points leader, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox Kalex) was 18th, some 1.7 seconds away from pole.

MOTO3 QUALIFYING

Silverstone’s Moto3 front row with Tony Arbolino (center) winning the pole. (Gold & Goose photo)

Pole number five went to Tony Arbolini, after a fine tactical display by the Snipers Honda rider kept a slipstreaming pack at bay at the end of the session.

Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) was less than a tenth down, second-fastest, then Raul Fernandez (Samar KTM) completing the front row.

The second is all-Honda, with Petronas ride Ayumu Sasaki heading Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58) and Scotsman John McPhee (Petronas)

Celestino Vietti’s SKY KTM leads two more Hondas on row three, from fellow rookie Ai Ogura and Marcos Ramirez, with Sergio Garcia (Honda) completing the top ten.

Two of the top four, Fernandez and Sasaki, were through from Q1; likewise Vietti; while the top 11 were inside one second. And Arbolino’s pole was, it almost goes without saying, yet another new record.

Saturday News

Special-Edition Triumph Introduced

Silverstone saw the launch of the first love-child between Dorna and new Moto2 partners Triumph – a special limited-edition track-day-focused street bike, with strong links to the 765cc three-cylinder engine that has reinvigorated the previously almost moribund middle grand prix class.

The new sports bike comes in two versions – one for the USA and Canada, and another for the UK and the rest of the world. And the Hinckley-based British company promises exclusivity for buyers. There will be only 765 of each version, each numbered on the top triple-clamp, with no follow-up mass-produced version.

Named the Moto2 Daytona, reviving a long-standing model name for Triumph that dates back to the mid-1960s and a landmark win at the US track, the new bike offers a comprehensive all-round upgrade on the stock 765, the modifications informed, say Triumph, by the development and half-season experience of their Moto2 engine.

The production bike, with 128 horsepower at 13,250 rpm, improves on every aspect of power and torque of the base 765, throughout the rev range. The upgraded engine is mounted in a lighter “racing” chassis, with single-seater carbon-fibre bodywork. Predominately black, with a stylised Union-Jack motif in silver, the US version also has red highlighting on wheel rims and other areas.

Weight was not revealed, awaiting homologation, but the bike is lighter than the stock model, they said.

Gearing is also modified for more track focus, and there is a slipper clutch. This however, along with the five-program electronic package, are Triumph’s own, rather than the Magneti Marelli used by the Moto2 bikes.

The UK price will be £15,765, with launch set for “early next year”.

Moto2 Riders Happy with Triumph

Triumph’s Moto2 experience has so far been beneficial to the riders and the quality of the racing, most observers agree – with the extra torque and closer-ratio gearing compared with the smaller and more street-based Honda 600 predecessor giving riders more to play with.

Where the Honda-powered bikes generally were stuck with one corner line, all in the same gear, the new generation offers different possibilities to riders, encouraging more overtaking.

An informal half-season review coincided with the launch of the new Moto2 road bike, and was perhaps justifiably self-congratulatory in tone.

Race records had fallen at every track so far, although not always lap records, in spite of the extra power and torque. This, said an insider, was the consequence of new-generation tyres, which were deliberately conservative; while the tyre endurance did allow the race times to be cut.

Moto2 Machine Hits 300 kph

Another landmark came at Mugello, when SKY VR46 rider Nicolo Bulega clocked a top speed o0f 300.6 km/h, the first Moto2 bike to exceed 300.

With sealed engines required to do three races before replacement and a total of 200,000 km clocked up in racing and testing, reliability had been good enough to allow the rev limit to be increased from 14,000 to 14,500 rpm. However, some riders had been exceeding the limit on back-shifting, and persistent offenders who damaged engines would be charged 5,150 Euros for a rebuild.

The Triumph Moto2 contract runs for three years, and mark the old marque’s first official entry into GP racing. Triumph’s previous racing efforts were concentrated mainly on US racing. Under new owner John Bloor, who bought the ailing company in 1983, the involvement in racing had hitherto been strictly limited.

Track Limits Modified

Track limits proved flexible at Silverstone, after the controversial cancellation and then reinstatement of two key lap times on Friday afternoon.

The transgression – going beyond the white paint onto the green beyond the corner-exit kerbs – nullifies that lap time in practice, and in a race incurs a warning and for re-offenders a trip through the long-lap penalty lane.

The corner in question was Chapel, the last in the famous left-right-left complex leading onto the Hangar Straight; the riders were Fabio Quartararo and Valentino Rossi. The former’s reinstated lap time put him on top of the sheets; while for Rossi it meant being promoted back from 17th to fourth overall.

Following the decision, the Riders Safety Commission meeting unanimously requested a change to that part of the track, where the official kerb ended very abruptly and the green paint cut directly across the natural exit line.

The control-tower cronies concurred, and for Saturday the corner exit was repainted, extending the white of the kerb.

New Engine for KTM

KTM’s latest engine, with a deep droning exhaust note, has now been given to three out of four riders, with rising star Miguel Oliveira now with two of the latest spec bikes, rather than just one, as in Austria.

At that race the Portuguese rider finished a career-best sixth; while at Silverstone he was also giving nothing away to the factory riders.

Now Oliveira is the natural target to take the place of Johann Zarco in the factory team next year, although satellite team owner Hervé Poncharal makes no secret of his with to prevent that move.

The new engine has a revised crankshaft with altered firing intervals, and the sound suggests that all four cylinders of the V4 fire close together.

Rossi Too Old?

Is Valentino Rossi too old? For the first race since the three flyaways at the start of the year the 40-year-old was able to give a hearty guffaw at the suggestion, after qualifying second fastest.

Part of the reason was the nature of Silverstone, he said. “The layout and radius of the corners – medium fast – are good for our bike, and it is also stable on the

bumps. And it looks like in the last period Yamaha have worked in a good direction, and done some clever things.”

This was more important than any change in his attitude.

“I know I have good motivation and can be strong, and I feel good physically. At my age, if you have some bad races people say it is time to stay home. It’s natural.

“But also it is the bike.

“We were in a bad situation and we got a bit lost. You can see today with Jorge Lorenzo that if you are not at 100 percent or riding at 100 percent, you are not P7 any more. You are P18.”

With the changes from Yamaha, “now you can see small adjustments make a difference. We are not fast enough on the straight, but for the rest it is better.”

Bastianini Withdraws

Impressive Moto2 rookie Enea Bastianini paid the price of a heavy crash in the Austrian GP, withdrawing in pain from ankle injuries after taking part in the first day of free practice.

Bastianini was with the front group near the end of the race when he was skittled because of an error by Luca Marini, who also fell, without injury.

Dovi Taking His Time Getting Up to Speed

Marquez’s main title rival Andrea Dovizioso took time to get up to speed, obliged to come through Q1 after placing 14th in the important first three free practices.

He ended up seventh, leading row three, but with times so close that from Rossi in second to Dovi in seventh was covered by less than two tenths.

The delay in getting up to speed was not just a hunt for settings, he said, but because the resurfacing had changed the track to such an extent it involved a new learning process.

“The lines are completely different from last year, without the bumps,” he said.

Friday

2019 Silverstone MotoGP Results and News

Blazing heat at the smooth new Silverstone saw the lap record smashed at a repeat of what is becoming the usual pattern for the season – reigning king Marc Marquez versus flaming rookie Fabio Quartararo.

2019 Silverstone MotoGP Results and News

Quartararo-Silverstone-Fri-2019
MotoGP rookie Fabio Quartararo clocked the fastest time in MotoGP Friday at Silverstone. (Gold & Goose photo)

Honours went to the parvenu … but only after some official intervention. Marquez’s name had topped the sheets after Quartararo’s best lap was disallowed for exceeding track limits. But he had only kissed the green boundary, and it was reinstated.

The Petronas Yamaha rider’s 1m 59.225 was a quarter of a second quicker than Marquez’s Repsol Honda, with the top four times all inside the old record.

Maverick Vinales’s on the factory Monster Yamaha was third, back after a tumble in the morning session; with team-mate Valentino Rossi fourth – his lap time also reinstated.

Riders universally praised the new surface, which while not free of bumps was, in the words of Rossi, “75 percent better”; while high grip also played its part in the improved lap time.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda) was fifth; then Andrea Dovizioso on the first Ducati; ahead of second satellite Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli.

KTM’s top rider was also in the satellite team – the Tech 3 Red Bull squad, with Miguel Oliveira going from strength to strength even as factory rider Johann Zarco continues to decline, ending up 14th today, one place behind fellow factory teamster Pol Espargaro. But times were close now, and Pol was just 1.36 seconds off the fastest, at the longest lap of the year.

Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was ninth, with factory rider Danilo Petrucci tenth.

Fine weather is forecast for tomorrow, so those out of the top ten – including 15th-fastest Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) – will have another chance to make the top ten

for Q2.

The returned Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) was a tentative 22nd and last, more than 3.6 seconds off the pace.

Moto2

With the top 17 riders within one second and 19 inside the old lap record, Moto2 promised a close and fast contest, and little comfort for provisional pole-sitter Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up). He was barely a tenth clear of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex), marginally fastest of seven of the German chassis.

Flexbox team-mates Augusto Fernandez and Lorenzo Baldassarri were next; then Sam Lowes (Federal Oils), holder of the previous best lap.

Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS) was next, then Tetsuta Nagashima and Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Intact), ahead of Brad Binder on the top KTM. Veteran Mattia Pasini (Kalex) completed the top ten.

Moto3

Records tumbled also in Moto3, with double 2020 winner Toni Arbolino setting the pace in the cooler morning session at 2m 12.008, four tenths under the previous best lap. The Snipers Honda rider was marginally slower in the afternoon, with Sama KTM’s Albert Arenas slotting into second, a couple of tenths down.

The Honda/KTM mix continued, with Dalla Porta (Honda) third from Darryn Binder (KTM); then Tatsuki Suzuki (Honda) from Aron Canet (KTM), all on afternoon times, and now 0.65 of a second down.

Three more Honda riders – Toba, Fenati and Jeremy Alcoba (replacing the injured Rodrigo) and Nepa (KTM) completed the top ten.

Friday News

Praise for Silverstone’s New Surface

After last year’s flooding and cancellation, the fully resurfaced Silverstone got an enthusiastic reception from all MotoGP riders, praising not only the relative lack of bumps, but also the grip of the new surface.

“The biggest thing is a lot less bumps – 75 percent less,” said Rossi.

“It means you can push more, and you can use the correct line. I don’t want to say it is perfect, but it’s nearly perfect. We need to use the track this year, because next year maybe there will be more bumps.”

This is a natural consequence of sharing the circuit with F1.

Marquez concurred, saying: “It is not completely smooth, but it is inside the limit, but last year it was outside the limit. Like Motocross. Now the places where there are bumps are not dangerous.”

Jack Miller talked of a change of heart. “This wasn’t one of my favourite tracks, and now it’s become one of my most favourite. They don’t make them like this any more. They should get the same people to resurface Brno, then we would have three tracks that are really nice to ride.” (The third being Phillip Island.)

Marquez Takes a Tumble

Marquez slipped off in FP1 – a harmless front-wheel slide at a relatively low speed. The surprise was that it was his first tumble since Le Mans, round five, in mid-May.

“I haven’t crashed in three months … and it is too long for me,” he laughed. “If you keep pushing, it is part of the sport.”

The championship leader had reverted to his old-style aluminium chassis, after racing the carbon-fibre-clad version for the first time at the last round in Austria.

He had also used the second-generation aero bodywork and the swing-arm chin-spoiler (nicknamed “spoon”) for the first time at the Red Bull Ring. For this race, only the fairing remained.

“This circuit with the resurface had a lot of doubts, and we decided it was better to forget about the changes we are not sure about, and concentrate on the familiar chassis.”

Lorenzo Returns

Jorge Lorenzo made a tentative return to the tracks after an eight-week lay-off, recuperating from two vertebral fractures sustained in a heavy tumble in practice for the Dutch TT at the end of June.

He was placed last in free practice, more than 3.6 seconds off the pace, and admitted he was still suffering pain and a lack of confidence.

It was not only the Assen crash that had shaken him, he had said, although that was more injurious – but an equally having tumble at post-race tests at the previous round in Catalunya.

He admitted there was an obvious fear factor to be overcome. “Now more than ever I don’t want a similar accident. Another break in the same part of my back would be very serious,” he said.

The pain was a reminder, but “when I am fully healed I will be back to normal,” he said.

Lorenzo Faces Questions on Ducati Rumors

Jorge Lorenzo would neither confirm nor deny that he had approached Ducati before the Austrian GP. Strong rumours from several sources said that he had been seeking a switch back to the Italian marque in the satellite Pramac team as early as next year, after his switch to the Repsol Honda had been both so painful and so far unproductive.

The rumours left Pramac incumbent Jack Miller on tenterhooks, not knowing if he would be out of a job; but at least partial resolution came on Saturday night, with news that Lorenzo had telephoned Honda team boss Alberto Puig to confirm his commitment to fulfil the second year of his contract.

First asked whether he had contacted Ducati, he obfuscated, talking about the problems he had faced after two big crashes at Montmelo tests then Assen less than two weeks later.

“After crashes I had never suffered in my career, I started to have doubts about my life and my career. I think it is human to have these doubts.

“When I started to feel better these doubts started to disappear … I started again to be convinced about challenge I took on one year ago, to be competitive on the Honda.

“I again felt commitment to keep with this challenge, and I called Alberto and Honda and told them I want full commitment to the challenge.”

Came the question again: Did you contact Ducati?

Answer: “There were a lot of rumours. I wasn’t there [in Austria] but the rumours were huge, so I contacted Alberto.”

Question: But did you contact Ducati?

Answer: “I am here to speak about the future.”

In other words: “Yes, but it’s none of your business.”

Lorenzo Talks Down Time

Regarding his absence since before the Dutch race in June, Lorenzo said: “I have never spent so long out of motorcycle competition in 17 years. It was very difficult in the beginning. The first two weeks recovery was very slow.

“After two or three weeks I was recovering faster, and I could do some physical training again. It was painful, but every night a bit better.

“The usual time for complete recovery from this injury is three months. I have had two months, and obviously I still have some pain in my back. But I feel able to ride again, and to try.

“Obviously not to win or the podium or even the top five. You can lose a lot of speed when you are out of racing for a time. But as soon as I am back on the bike I will start to get back to the good pace I was starting to show before the accident.”

Miller a Happy Camper

Jack Miller arrived at Silverstone “in a very different frame of mind”, after the last emotionally fraught start to the weekend in Austria. He had been waiting for weeks for confirmation of a renewed contract with Pramac Ducati on a full factory bike … and the Lorenzo news hit him hard.

Days later, his contract renewal was confirmed, and he was able to forget about looking for options … one of which came from KTM, looking for a replacement for the departing Zarco.

“It was an offer,” he confirmed. “But my goal was to continue with Ducati so my main thing was to stay with Pramac. When I arrived at the last GP this was not the case, but then something changed, and everything is wonderful now.”

Rossi Weighs in on Zarco Move

Zarco’s decision to bail out halfway through his two-year contract with KTM struck a chord with Valentino Rossi, who suffered similar performance problems and doubts in his two-year sojourn with Ducati in 2011 and 2012.

“I felt a bit similar … a lot of expectation from outside and also from me, but unfortunately not a very good feeling with the bike, especially the front. Maybe this is the same with Zarco.

I know when you are in that situation it is very difficult – you lose motivation and the happiness, to think positive, to think you can do well. You start in a negative way. If you don’t have fun to ride the bike everything become more heavy – the travel, staying outside from your house, speaking to journalists, it is difficult to sleep.

“A lot of time I was thinking to stop, but in the end it was better to carry on. Also if you stop, you don’t have another bike. In the end I did some good races, had some podiums. it was right to stay.”

Cal Crutchlow also cut his Ducati contract short, but said: “It was for a different reason. I had another offer on the table. I did them a favour and they did me a favour. It is different for Johann – to leave with no job to go to is a desperate situation.”

Possible Test Roll for Zarco

Zarco may be earmarked for a test-rider role, back on the Yamaha upon which he achieved serial success over the past two year. This follows news that current test rider Jonas Folger is plotting a return to Moto2. Suzuki may offer a similar chance for the Frenchman, who turned his back on a factory Suzuki MotoGP contract in favour of Yamaha in 2017.

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Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.

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