Austin MotoGP Review - pitboards, penalties and Zarco vs Rossi

MotoGP
By Amy Dargan
amylouisedargan  MotoGP's official roving reporter since the beginning of the 2015 season. Previously it was three years getting muddy covering MXGP but this season she'll be filling BikeSocial readers in on the story lines in between the racing lines after each MotoGP.
Zarco leads Crutchlow at the Austin MotoGP 2017

by Amy Dargan, MotoGP Paddock Reporter 

You know it’s been a good race when you get back to your hotel and just collapse. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one shouting at the screens? Three words to sum up Austin (ok well actually seven) pitboards, penalties and a Frenchman called Zarco.

Personally I love a race that divides opinion; for starters it gives us lots of good talking points; was Johann Zarco’s pass hard but fair, was Rossi’s penalty harsh and in the moment – should the teams give the penalty pitboards to Pedrosa/Rossi?

The other thing that Austin did was provide the perfect opportunity to talk about one of our MotoGP rookies a little more.

In Zarco’s own words in Thursday’s press conference, leading those handful of laps in Qatar got more people talking about him than winning two world titles in the intermediate class and he was totally spot on. It’s a sad but true reality but not just accountable to our sport.

He followed up with finishing Friday in the top 3 of combined practice times, ok it’s only free practice but think about it; your 26 years old, it’s only your third premiere class race weekend, you are serving it to multiple world champions and grand prix winners and you’re sick- it’s pretty damn cool if you ask me. I went and interviewed him that day and pressed him a little more on how in this scenario to borrow his favorite phrase he “keeps calm.” He looked at me with a smile that said ‘I’m not giving away any secrets’ and instead said simply “stay calm and enjoy, so I’m doing it.”

Johann Zarco in the press conference ahead of the Austin MotoGP

I have to admit that I didn’t expect Johann to start as well as he has and if you met him away from the race track you probably wouldn’t pin him as a guy that would go in for that type of pass on The Doctor or other high profile riders. You could almost mistake him for being a little bit shy, until you ask him a question and realise he can talk for England...or France. He always kind of looks as though he’s carrying the weight of the world around on his shoulders, he’s definitely a thinker but there is clearly an abundance of underlying passion there.

I remember in one press conference last year in the wake of the passing of Louis Salom a journalist challenged the riders on their responses to why the changes that were made to turn 12 were not in place before, Marquez leaned forward to answer but the Moto2 championship leader Johann Zarco held his hand up and took the question himself. He responded by telling the journalist in no uncertain terms that journalist what he thought of the question by delivering a passionate but intelligent answer.

Post Austin, he’s been given the warning shot by Rossi for that bold move that forced Rossi off track “this is not Moto2.” Do I think this will stop him for going in for the same pass again? Absolutely not. He wants to win. He is definitely a when-the-visor-goes-down-the-gloves-are-off kinda guy, if you didn’t know him then you definitely will now and here’s a heads up ahead of him breaking his MotoGP duck be prepared for his specialty celebration move; the backflip.

Catch you in Jerez.

Zarco and Rossi were pals after qualifying

Johann Zarco Factfile

Nationality

French

Born

16 July 1990(age26)
Cannes, France

Current team

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Bike number

5


Season

Class

Motorcycle

Team

Race

Win

Pts

Plcd

2009

125cc

Aprilia

WTR San Marino Team

16

0

32.5

20th

2010

125cc

Aprilia

WTR San Marino Team

17

0

77

11th

2011

125cc

Derbi

Avant-AirAsia-Ajo

17

1

262

2nd

2012

Moto2

Motobi

JiR Moto2

17

0

95

10th

2013

Moto2

Suter

Came IodaRacing Project

17

0

141

9th

2014

Moto2

CaterhamSuter

AirAsia Caterham

18

0

146

6th

2015

Moto2

Kalex

Ajo Motorsport

18

8

352

1st

2016

Moto2

Kalex

Ajo Motorsport

18

7

276

1st

2017

MotoGP

Yamaha

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

3

0

22*

7th

* Season still in progress.
AmyDargen MotoGP

Who is Amy? 

Amy is one of MotoGP’s official roving reporters hunting down the riders, their managers, crew chiefs and paddock personalities at every Grand Prix. This season she'll be filling BikeSocial readers in on the story lines in between the racing lines. 

Amy is all about two wheels coming from three years covering the MXGP championship before embarking on her third season in MotoGP, she'll also be the pit lane reporter at selected Speedway Grand Prix this year. 

You can follow her 2017 season on Instagram at @amylouisedargan and Twitter @amylouisedargan

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