Johann Zarco produced a real exploit at Brno, first succeeding in conquering pole position on Saturday and then also achieving an absolutely unexpected podium in the race. That the Frenchman could be really fast on the flying lap was already plain to see, but that he could even last the 21-lap race with a podium pace was not obvious.
Instead Zarco did it, scoring an absolutely incredible third place after being penalized with a long lap penalty following the accident involving him and Pol Espargarò, who crashed in turn 1 due to a misunderstanding with the Frenchman. Johann has taken very little time to get the measure of the Ducati GP19, a bike that on paper could have been almost as difficult as the 2019 KTM and which instead he is interpreting at the moment better than the factory riders, given the Brno results of Dovizioso, Miller and Petrucci. This podium adds to yesterday's pole position in strengthening Zarco's position in Ducati for the future. A seat in Pramac seems the minimum for him in 2021, but at this rate he could also succeed in undermining Dovizioso in the factory team.
"It is good to dream sometimes - declared Zarco - today the podium seemed like a dream, but we did it. I have to say thanks to Ducati for what I am experiencing, since we only started to know each other in December. This race was unbelievable, pole was already a nice surprise yesterday. The only thing I wanted to do today was to start well and try to have a fast pace right away, because I knew that without a good start it would be difficult to pick up the pace. "
Now that you've seen KTM win, do you have any second thoughts about your 2019 decision? Maybe you should have waited…
"I'm happy for Brad and also for KTM. He managed to do what I couldn't do for them last year. They made a big step forward during the winter with the bike. He arrived on the bike with a fresh mind, without having ridden any other bikes before and this is helping him to do things in the right way. He was already fast at Jerez and the other riders were lucky that he had problems there because he would have undoubtedly been on the podium. Today he was very good with the tyres!".
So, no regrets…
"I have no remorse about my choice to leave KTM. At that moment in 2019 I was suffering too much and I needed a change, especially for myself. I felt I needed more, I felt that although I was earning well it was not what I wanted. I also had to be honest with KTM, and I told them I'd rather stop than be so slow with their bike. It was a huge step, but when I got to know the Ducati in December, I started feeling again what good sensations I had in Moto2. I don't know if it depends on the people, the team, the bike. In fact, however, the Ducati immediately gave me great confidence in Sepang and I was able to start pushing straight away. For KTM today it's fine to have Brad, he showed who he is already in Moto2 last year, when they had problems with the bike and he was able to go beyond the problems. The MotoGP never manages to be a perfect bike, so it's thanks to him that he managed to get the best out of it and win " .
Tell us about your race today, a great exploit...
"My start was not good, I had to recover immediately. I realized that I could keep up with Morbidelli's pace, but I couldn't stay with him right away. After a few laps I got free of the group of riders who were in the middle. and I was able to push. Pol Espargarò in the meantime had attacked me because he had more rhythm and could catch those even further ahead. But he made a small mistake due to his enthusiasm going wide at the first corner. I put myself on his line, I thought he could see me, but I was wrong ".
Did you immediately realize he had crashed?
"I heard that we touched but I didn't see him crash. I noticed it later because I stopped hearing the noise of his bike. I was also worried that there could be some penalties, because now the rules are very strict in case of contact. I expected to receive a penalty but it did not arrive, then the long lap penalty appeared. There I told myself that I would lose third place. Then I saw that I was able to keep third place, so I just thought to push hard. Maybe the fact of using the Multistrada on the road helped me to do the long lap penalty quickly! "
During the race, did you think that maybe having a medium tyre you could have fought for the win?
"If I had put the medium tyre on even at the beginning, I couldn't have kept that race pace. My style today helped me because it fits perfectly with the soft tyres. But if it is necessary to push and be more aggressive, I have to be ready. "
Last year you were in difficulty, how did you reset and be so ready for 2020?
"I emptied my head in the winter, I had a lot of desire to do well with this bike, I really had an incredible desire to ride this bike well. Given the time I set in qualifying, I said to myself that I could keep a slower pace but it would have been the same for everyone. I thought it would be difficult for me and for the others to keep a high-level pace and I must say that starting from the front helps a lot. The first half of the race you already break away from those behind, so it's essential to be able to start so far up on the grid. Today I also learned that I have to understand how to make the most of the start, because it is fundamental. In some laps I felt very strong in corner entry and also in the curve, so I don't know if today I have learned something new in my riding, but I know for sure that I have confirmed some things I already knew about what it takes to go fast with the Ducati. "
In the 'virtual' ranking of Ducati preferences, today you earned several points…
"I don't want to think too much about why I was the fastest Ducati rider here, but I'm certainly happy to have gained points in the mind of Ducati, in those who decide. They are giving me superb support, to me and to the team. I hope I deserve something good, luckily this result came earlier than expected. But now I have to confirm this speed also in Austria and I know I have the chance because on that track the Ducati is always strong. But I don't think it will be easy. "
The Red Bull Ring is a track you like, do you think you can repeat the result?
"It is one of the best tracks for me, in Moto2 I immediately had great sensations. At the Red Bull Ring I did an event for KTM last year and they gave me a Super Duke 1290 and I didn't want to get off the bike anymore. I like the track a lot. I am curious to see what I can do with a Ducati there. In any case I will have to aim to do my best, because if you don't aim to do your best on a MotoGP bike, you are behind. But Ducati's top at Spielberg seems to be interesting ".