Johann Zarco pushed his teammate and Title challenger Jorge Martin out of the lead leading to a MASSIVE change in the Championship

Johann Zarco registered his first win in MotoGP as he denied his teammate Jorge Martin a podium.


Johann Zarco pushed his teammate and Title challenger Jorge Martin out of the lead leading to a MASSIVE change in the Championship

Johann Zarco (via motonews)

The Iconic sweeping Phillip Island Circuit has always been a fan-favorite, and the 2023 Australian Grand Prix stands tall as proof amongst some of the very best races at the circuit in MotoGP history. The fans were treated to a marvelous race, somewhat reminiscent of the iconic 2015 Grand Prix, where four riders battled it out for the win, only this time, there were 5. Johann Zarco emerged as the Victor in the spell-binding race that saw huge tremors in the title fight between Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin.

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Martin got off to a blistering start from Pole as all eyes were upon him and Pecco, who lined up on P3. Martin’s soft rear tire propelled the Spaniard into a rocketing start as the rider led the entire pack again, as he had done in the previous 3 Grands Prix. Martin built a massive gap (3.5 seconds at one time) as he appeared to run for the Victory alone. But the closing laps saw the chasing pack of Johann Zarco, Brad Binder, Fabio Di Giannantonio, and the Championship leader Bagnaia close down upon Martin. The four riders cut down Martin’s advantage of 3 seconds in 2 laps and were beside him at the very last lap.

The Frenchman expressed his emotions after winning his first race in MotoGP – six years after his Moto2 triumph. Zarco said [as reported by Crash.net],

"After so many races I finally won, I have to take in the moment. I want to cry, but not at the moment.” 

Johann Zarco, the rider known for his tire preservation and being winless in MotoGP since his 2017 Debut, races for the Pramac team as Jorge Martin’s teammate. Zarco was applauded at the Pramac factory as he overtook Bagnaia, aiding his teammate’s title challenge. This applause was soon diminished as Zarco (P4 with two laps to go) moved on Martin as the Spaniard appeared to run wide. Zarco claimed the inside line and left his teammate no space to correct his mistake, eventually leading Martin to run further wide.

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This move became sensational because Martin’s direct rival in the Championship followed Zarco past Martin. Jorge Martin’s momentum was shattered by running wide, and the rider lost two more places to Di Giannantonio and Binder in half a lap. The Frenchman Zarco celebrated his first win in the Premiere Class later with a backflip, marking a massive change in the Championship standings.

Jorge Martin’s tire gamble didn’t pay off – How does the Championship look now?

Martin was only 18 points behind the Championship leader Bagnaia coming into the Australian GP after his massive blunder at the Indonesian GP. Pecco Bagnaia appeared to struggle at the circuit on Friday as the factory Ducati rider had to climb through Q1 to get to Q2, while Martin looked strong all weekend. The Pramac rider decided to gamble as he chased the Championship lead; the rider and team opted for the Soft compound rear tire, while the top 6 opted for the Medium.

Jorge Martin's tires at Phillip Island (via MotoGP)
Jorge Martin’s tires at Phillip Island (via MotoGP)

Martin’s gamble looked like a brilliant decision as he could gap the rest of the pack by over 3 seconds – almost 3.5. Martin looked unbeatable until the last two laps, where his lead was cut down by the chasing pack by a massive amount. Martin’s soft rear had given up as the rider appeared to slide around on corner exits, barely able to hang on to his Ducati. The rest of the pack had a Medium rear tire, and many riders, including Pecco Bagnaia and the eventual winner Zarco, had saved up their tires for a last-lap battle. Their plan worked; Martin finished P5 as he lost four places in one lap.

Martin is only 27 points behind Pecco in the standings. The Spaniard had a chance to increase his points tally significantly more than Bagnaia in the past two Grand Prix weekends but has failed to do so. It will be interesting to see if it is the factory Ducati rider who falters moving ahead, especially now that he is leading the Championship. That has been the pattern in the post-Marc Marquez era.

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