Johann Zarco will have the opportunity to further rebuild his reputation in 2020 after it was announced that he would be riding for Avintia in the premier class of MotoGP for the 2020 season.
Avintia have run Ducatis in previous seasons and thanks to a new deal agreed with Ducati, they will become an official satellite team and be provided with GP19 Desmosedici bikes.
All of this has led to Johann Zarco being quoted as having big aims for next season, stating “My goal for 2020 is to not finish beyond 10th spot, see the top seven and integrate into the official team in 2021.”Embed from Getty Images
This feels like quite an ambitious target considering the difficult 2019 Zarco has had, then there is also the fact that there are at least three riders currently ahead of Zarco when it comes to the 2021 factory Ducati lineup with Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci currently occupying the two rides, with Jack Miller at Pramac Racing been provided a ‘current spec’ bike over the last couple of seasons. There is also Francesco Bagnaia to consider, Miller’s teammate, who did have a difficult rookie season, but did manage a fourth place finish in Australia and will be on a GP20 bike in the coming season having ridden the GP18 bike during 2019.
All of this is before you take into consideration some of the riders from other team’s that Ducati may be talking to, the first coming to mind being Maverick Vinales who has been linked with the factory Ducati team.
There is also the issue of time, with the expectation for 2021-22 contracts to be finalised quickly, leaving Zarco with little time to build his case for being in the factory team for 2021. There is also the added pressure of Zarco needing to learn a new bike, his fourth different manufacturer in the last two years.
Having said that, it feels like it will be a similar scenario for Zarco in 2020 as it was when he made his MotoGP debut back in 2017, in that he will be on a year old machine and looking to stun those on the current spec bikes run by the factory team, and a rival satellite team. If Zarco managed to replicated his 2017 campaign where he finished sixth in the championship and claimed three podium finishes, that would go some way to making him a strong case for a 2021 factory ride or even at the next round of contract negotiations around 2022.
Despite only managing to finish one race in his three race Honda stint, Zarco has managed to rebuild his reputation slightly after the issues during his time with KTM. However I still have a feeling that the Frenchman’s reputation and his long term future in MotoGP is on the line going into 2020, especially with the high standard he expects of himself in the coming season, and he needs to make the most of the chance he has with Avintia to secure his place in MotoGP and show that the issues during his stint at KTM were an exception.
He is well placed, with a competitive bike and a good roster of riders on similar bikes in Dovizioso, Petrucci, Miller and Bagnaia in which to continue rebuilding from his 2019 season, which will only change the possibility of being a full factory Ducati rider for 2021 or beyond to more of a certainty.