“Zarco didn’t want to ride for us, Bastianini podium tastes better” - Ruben Xaus

Avintia Ducati boss Ruben Xaus admits he is savouring Enea Bastianini's 2021 MotoGP Misano podium more than Johann Zarco's third at Brni in 2020

Avintia Racing, Enea Bastianini

Avintia Racing boss Ruben Xaus says he can take greater pleasure from Enea Bastianini’s superb run to the podium in the San Marino MotoGP compared with Johann Zarco’s similar feat in 2020 in part because of the Frenchman’s much publicised attitude towards the team.

Bastianini emerged as the standout at Misano with a remarkable ride that saw him take his 2019-spec Ducati GP19 from 12th on the grid all the way to the podium on pure pace alone, the Italian rookie lapping as fast as the leaders as he picked up numerous more esteemed rivals.

Only the second podium achieved by Avintia Racing at this level, it comes as the Spanish outfit prepares to depart MotoGP after ten seasons, with its entries being assumed by VR46 Racing for the 2022 season.

For team manager Xaus - himself a former MotoGP rider and WorldSBK runner-up - Bastianini’s achievement leaves a more indelible mark than that of its maiden rostrum, achieved by Zarco at the Czech MotoGP in Brno.

On that occasion Zarco stunned the paddock by qualifying on pole position before overcoming a long-lap penalty to finish in third place.

However, as Xaus points out, Bastianini achieved his feat on the almost obsolete Ducati GP19 - a two-year old bike dictated by a freeze in the regulations for 2021 - in a team with the lowest budget by some margin, whereas Zarco had greater experience and greater input from the Ducati factory as part of a deal to place him at Avintia. 

“This podium tastes much better than that of last year,” Xaus told DAZN. “We built it: ninth in the first lap, overtaking Marc Marquez, Aleix Espargaró, Joan Mir, Álex Rins, Jack Miller… In other words, a great race. Zarco had done podiums before, here we are talking about a rookie and this is our last season in MotoGP. We landed a podium with a very limited budget.”

Indeed, Xaus still harbours mixed emotions from Zarco’s time at Avintia. The Frenchman infamously dismissed Avintia’s modest resources at the end of the 2019 season when asked whether he would consider joining the Spanish team, saying he’d sooner race in Moto2.

However, the intervention of Ducati would see Zarco agree to join Avintia in return for some factory resources, even if the man himself went to lengths to point out he was on a Ducati contract, rather than an Avintia Racing one.

Though Avintia went on to enjoy its most successful season with Zarco, Xaus says it was clear he didn’t want to be there, adding this Misano podium feels more organic than Brno.

“Zarco didn't want to ride for us, but he had a much better bike than Bastianini now. In Brno we took pole and it was great, but a lot had happened. Not in this race. 

“After our podium with Johann Zarco, everyone said 'ah but it's Johann, it's the bike…' We're doing it again with the same team, without having a better bike, so that means that the package is incredible, added to the driver's incredible performance ”.