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Zarco produces maiden MotoGP™ victory in Phillip Island classic

Saturday, 21 October 2023

The Island produced another heart-pumping race.

For 26 of the 27 lap race, it looked like a Prima Pramac Ducati was going to win the 2023 MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. And one did; it just wasn’t what most fans thought it would be.

For 95 per cent of the race, Jorge Martin looked to be in total control. He eked out a lead of nearly 3.5 seconds and was managing the gap to the chasing pack. But after risking Michelin’s Soft tyre – one of only three riders to do so – Martin ran out of grip and speed and on the final lap of the race, the opposition closed in to steal the win.


Was it Pecco Bagnaia? Brad Binder? An impressive Fabio Di Gianntonio?

No. It was Johann Zarco. Without a win in MotoGP™ in seven seasons, the Frenchman mercilessly picked off his teammate and sped to an emotional maiden win at the sport’s highest level.

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“It is a good feeling. I made a good start and I had to fight at the beginning,” said the two-time Moto2™ world champion.

“I was trying to save the rear tyre whenever possible, I knew I could handle it well. I tried to attack and I was almost surprised to see Martin dropping down. After so many races trying to do it, it is really high emotion.

“I don’t want to cry at the moment but I think it will come soon.”

Bagnaia took second place after scrambling past Martin and will now go into the Sunday Tissot Sprint 27 points clear of Martin in the championship points.

“I could see the guys at the front were pushing, I was just trying to be calm,” Pecco said. “I just tried to following him [Zarco] and it was perfect.”

The man who took third was the other story of the race. Fresh from fourth in Indonesia last weekend, DiGianntonio, who the Gresini team has told that he will lose his seat to Marc Marquez for 2024, rode his heart out on a year-old Ducati after what he described as “maybe the best start of my life”, and fought back onto the podium over the final lap of the race.

Binder was a strong fourth place, ahead of the fading Martin and Marco Bezzecchi, who made positions late in the race on the Mooney VR46 Ducati.

It was a tough Saturday for Jack Miller. The Townsville rider was fourth on the opening lap but dropped back to eighth in the next five laps, before picking his way back to P6 by lap 12. He dropped a spot in the closing laps to finish seventh.

The riders and teams will now have to reset to prepare for Sunday’s Tissot Sprint, which is set to start at 1:00 pm.