Francesco Bagnaia vs Johann Zarco, who is the best rider for the factory bike.
Ducati themselves have confirmed that either Francesco Bagnaia or Johann Zarco will ride for their factory team for 2021 next to Jack Miller, the question is, who is better suited to this role?
We decided to look at some pros and cons of the pair.
First, we will start off with Johann Zarco, the rider who has spent the longest in the class out of the pair.
Zarco has many pros, firstly he is a two-time Moto2 World Champion and is the only rider to successfully defend his title in the intermediate class. Secondly, he works hard, he works incredibly hard to prove himself and justify his worth, he did this in Moto2 with Ajo and also in Yamaha where he was competitive right from his debut race. In MotoGP so far, he has taken two front rows including pole position at Brno and a third-place finish on the Ducati.
He is achieving incredible things with a team used to riding around at the back of the grid, the Avintia team for years and years have run around in last place in MotoGP, never really accomplishing anything, even Zarco said before signing for them that he would rather ride for a Moto2 team. Yet here we are with Zarco obtaining the teams’ first podium finish in the class.
Zarco has a wealth of MotoGP experience and knows the ins and outs of many bikes in MotoGP, directly helping Ducati with data about competition. Zarco has ridden the Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM, Honda and now the Ducati in MotoGP, getting a feel for all the bikes and what works with them and what doesn’t; this is like gold dust for Ducati, it is incredibly rare for a rider to have ridden five different bikes in MotoGP, Zarco will be able to bring this knowledge to the table.
Zarco is old in racing terms (unless you’re Valentino Rossi), no need to gloss over it, the Frenchman will be 31 next season and one of the oldest riders in the paddock. This cannot and will not be a long term investment by Ducati to hire Zarco for 2021 given his age as he will be looking to retire within the next 5 years, therefore he will not be able to replicate the 8-year-old contract which Andrea Dovizioso had with the Ducati brand.
Johann does not cope well with stress and a bike which does not work, we saw this last year, Zarco is not the best man to develop a bike, he is undeniably fast, but only on a bike which is already fast. He moved to KTM for 2019, a bike which needed work doing to it to be fast, it’s safe to say that Zarco had a torrid time, leaving the manufacturer after just thirteen races.
The Frenchman is also unlikely to win a MotoGP title, he has had four MotoGP seasons with multiple podiums but still has not won a race, Ducati wants a title winner and the first step is a race win.
Zarco on the KTM
Francesco Bagnaia is having a fantastic second MotoGP season with his first front-row start in Andalusia, he was then running in podium positions during the race before he had a mechanical issue which took him out of the race. Bagnaia is in a better place than Zarco due to the fact that he is only 23 years old and in his second MotoGP season on a Ducati, therefore he has so much more to learn and can be taken under the wing by Ducati like Dovizioso was and moulded into the ‘perfect’ Ducati rider.
Bagnaia before MotoGP was not a crasher, in his Moto2 career he did not score a single DNF, finishing every race he entered which is an impressive stat for the 2018 Moto2 World Champion.
The Italian is also… Italian! Ducati wants an Italian rider to fit their brand, for years now Ducati have always had an Italian rider on their factory MotoGP bike to stay true to their Italian heritage, Bagnaia’s passport may be the ticket to the seat.
Unfortunately, after saying Bagnaia is not a crasher, he crashed a lot in MotoGP last season, suffering four DNF’s in a row at one point, if he can iron this issue out which should not be a problem, he will be a true threat.
Bagnaia is young and inexperienced, he does not have the knowledge of what a MotoGP bike needs to be fast, this will mean he will be a number 2 rider with Jack Miller taking the lead on development with Pirro for the time being until Bagnaia learns more and perfects his racecraft.
For the most part, he is unproven, Bagnaia has not got a race win to his name, nor a MotoGP podium despite being close, Ducati are desperate for a MotoGP title and need two riders who can fight for the title.
Bagnaia celebrating his Moto2 title in 2018
In conclusion, both riders are more than fit for the job, but like anyone have their problems, Ducati will need to work out which rider will be the best investment for them to make.
Featured images – www.motogp.com
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