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Zarco attempts to clear the air after ‘killer’ crash comment

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Johann Zarco has moved to clear the air with Franco Morbidelli after the horrific high-speed crash between the duo in today’s Austrian Grand Prix, with Zarco speaking to both Morbidelli and mentor Valentino Rossi in the aftermath of the huge accident.

Using the horsepower advantage of his Avintia Ducati over Morbidelli’s Petronas SRT Yamaha, Zarco went to overtake Morbidelli on the long straight leading to the Turn 3 hairpin in the opening stages of the race, but contact between the two took them both down at nearly 200mph.

Fortunately avoided by oncoming riders, Zarco’s bike then catapulted across the track, almost striking the factory Yamaha pairing of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, in a moment that could easily have caused one of the darkest days in the history of grand prix motorcycle racing.

Franco Morbidelli Crash

“I overtook Morbidelli in the straight,” Zarco explained after the crash, “and then in the moment I had to brake he touched me and he was surprised.

“He was thinking that I went super wide, but I wasn’t much more wide than what I normally do.

“I didn’t want to do it on purpose, but now that we have spoken together they understood.

“It’s because of the speed. In the moment that I braked, I was in his slipstream, we touched, and we had no control and we crashed.

“Then the worst thing was that my bike could have destroyed Valentino.”

Tempers flared in the immediate aftermath of the crash, with Morbidelli branding Zarco, who has a history of being involved in incidents, as a ‘killer’ rider to go up against during an Italian TV interview.

“He’s half a killer,” the normally serene Morbidelli fumed.

“I’m fine, but it was very dangerous. For me and for him, but also for Valentino and Maverick who saw a bike come in their faces at 280km/h.

“I’m sorry because I wasn’t able to do anything. The moment I started braking, Zarco changed trajectory, perhaps to protect himself.

“When he went towards the outside, I was sucked into his slipstream. Braking like this, at 300km/h, means having little love for those who are racing with you.”

Zarco, who was left with burns to his arm and side after the fall, explained that he sought out Morbidelli afterwards, finding him in the medical centre while he was being treated for the contusions he also suffered in the fall.

Johann Zarco

However, he tried to find him again after hearing his comments on TV only to discover that he had already left the track – and instead spoke at length with Rossi in private.

“I wanted to see Franco, and we spoke in the medical centre; we hugged, because we were scared together,” said Zarco.

“Afterwards, some bad things came out in the interviews, but it was good to speak to Vale.

“We spent 10 minutes together and it was good to speak sincerely and to explain to him that I’m not a crazy guy. Things are better now.

“It was a bad event, we don’t want that, and the important thing is that no one was hurt.

“Aggressive is good but braking in face of the other riders, especially at 300km/h, is a potential disaster” :: Valentino Rossi

“With the few views from the TV, he thought I went super wide to stop Morbidelli, but I explained that I wasn’t crazy wide and that I really didn’t want to stop Morbidelli there. I wanted to make sure that was clear to him.”

However, while Rossi might have accepted Zarco’s explanation that his actions were far from deliberate, he remained insistent that riders have generally been allowed to become too aggressive in recent years.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard him make similar comments, having also raised the topic after past clashes with Marc Marquez, and he suggested that there’s a lesson to be learned by the entire field from what happened today.

“Now everybody is very aggressive in MotoGP but also in the small classes,” said Rossi.

Valentino Rossi

“And I can understand because you have to play a lot.

“But for me it is important that we don’t exaggerate it. You need to have respect for the other riders that are on the track with you.

“We have to remember that this sport is very dangerous, especially in a track where you have long straights and you always go at 300km/h.

“From the small classes, we have a lot of riders that when they brake, close the door in the face of the other one.

“In Italian we say ‘frenare in faccia’ – to ‘brake in the face’

“Zarco was very wide, and braking in the face of Franco, maybe to not let Franco re-overtake him in braking.

“But he’s too close, and when you’re at 300km/h, you have a lot of slipstream, and Franco didn’t have any chance to brake.

“At the end, we risked a lot, especially me and Maverick. It could have been a potential disaster.

“I spoke with Zarco face to face, and I said this to him, but he told me he didn’t do it purposely.

“Aggressive is good but braking in face of the other riders, especially at 300km/h, is a potential disaster.”

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