Johann Zarco apologises to Avintia for ‘not a top team’ quip

Johann Zarco admits he apologised to new employers Avintia Ducati for claiming it wasn't a top team... but says it has changed since he claimed it

Johann Zarco - LCR Honda

Johann Zarco has revealed he apologised to Avintia Ducati for dismissing it as ‘not a top team’ before going on to sign with the privateer outfit for the 2020 MotoGP season, revealing management ultimately agreed with his frank assessment.

The Frenchman will look to put a tough 2019 season behind him by embarking a new era at Ducati, where he will ride a year-old Desmosedici but do so with a certain amount of backing from the Italian manufacturer after it upgraded Avintia from privateer to satellite status.

Zarco’s deal came after he initially dismissed rumours linking him to the Avintia deal, rather pointedly saying he’d rather race in Moto2 than join the Spanish outfit.

However, assurances from Ducati that it’d provide support in 2020 on the back of Zarco signing would ultimately convince him to agree to join.

Since then, a contrite Zarco has met with the team and apologised for his remarks, albeit pointing out that the Avintia of 2020 will be very different to that of 2019 when he was first linked. Nevertheless, Zarco says he was told by Ruben Xaus that ‘it was not normal to want’ Avintia anyway due to its lowly status.

“My fears are erased because Ducati has entered directly,” he told Motosprint. “The team name is still Avintia, but it is not, we know that. 

“I spoke to the mechanics of Avintia and Rubén Xaus. I told them ‘Forgive me if I don't say nice things’ and they replied ‘No, you were not mistaken. In the situation we were in, it was normal not to want us’ . 

“And here the mechanics are 300% motivated. We all saw each other at the Ducati factory and the fact that they were there… It was good to see them.” 

Can Avintia Ducati become a ‘top team’ with Johann Zarco?

For a man with a particular riding style – one that never gelled with the KTM package – Zarco has been getting in the mileage on a variety of different machines recently with the Ducati set to mark his fourth different race bike in little more than a year.

Never one to mince his words, Zarco’s blunt assessment of Avintia prior to then signing for the team would always make things a little awkward initially, but he can’t afford to rely on its indifferent scoresheet over the years to justify bad results in 2020.

Indeed, Avintia isn’t just getting a seasoned podium winner in Zarco from this deal, he brings with him a handful of Ducati Corse sourced engineers that are likely to spur on a significant step forward for a team that has coped without any satellite status since joining MotoGP.

“It will benefit the entire Avintia team, including [Tito] Rabat, because in total there are now five technicians on the team..."

So there is no denying Zarco’s presence – comments and all – don’t disguise the fact this is a very mutually beneficial relationship for Avintia.

The Frenchman now has his sights set on a factory Ducati seat and believes he can take Avintia right into the top seven on occasions.

You have to get good results and beat the other Ducati, to be on the list,” he continued.

“I want to be back in the top ten.  And then I want to be at least in the top seven. It is a reasonable thing. It is very possible if I am good. And the goal is to be good. I have always dreamed of a world title or fighting for the title. 

“Therefore, I cannot say that I want to be first in the top 15 and then in the 12. I have the equipment to be in the top ten. I think we are strong for the top seven.”