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Zarco Will Race LCR Honda in Final Three MotoGP Rounds This Year

Confirming paddock rumors, Honda announced today that former KTM rider Johann Zarco will race the final 3 rounds of the MotoGP series this year aboard the LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami, who will undergo shoulder surgery following the Motegi race this weekend.

There is also speculation that Honda is using this opportunity to take a close look at Zarco … possibly as a replacement for Jorge Lorenzo, who has yet to come to terms with his Repsol Honda factory machine. It should be interesting, to say the least, to watch Zarco race a Honda. Zarco’s riding style has been compared to Lorenzo’s, and he may also have trouble coming to grips with the handling … although Zarco will be aboard a 2018 spec bike, rather than the 2019 factory machine currently raced by Lorenzo.


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41 Comments

  1. mickey says:

    Well we are all going to find out starting in 3 more days

  2. mickey says:

    After watching the Motegi race today, Zarco surely can’t do any worse than Lorenzo.

  3. Todd says:

    Zarco will wish he stayed at KTM. I think Stoner is the only one to give MM a fight in the Honda. Lorenzo and Zarco will be fighting for 2nd rate Yamahas.

  4. Neil says:

    He should be able to get top 8. Interesting to see. Why is Marc able to ride the bike? Like Johnny Rea in WSBK. Some guys are good and they like the bike. But at least SOMEONE should be able to ride the same bike fast and Jorge could not do a thing on it.

  5. Hot Dog says:

    I think most of you Cowboys are full of cow pie when you say JZo won’t be competitive. He did real well on the polished M1 but the KTM is definitely a unpolished turd that JZo became frustrated at. JZo has had some time to ponder his inactivity and I’m betting he’s pretty damned hungry right now. Granted the Honda is a beast but it’s been polished enough to win. JZo isn’t afraid to mix it up and I’m betting he’ll be close to podiums.

    • Dave says:

      “Honda is a beast but it’s been polished enough to win.”

      Under only one rider lately. It is also bad enough under a multi-time world champion to lose to the KTM’s Zarco is running away from.

      • mickey says:

        HUH? The only rider capable of riding the KTM half way decently is P. Espargaro and he certainly is no threat to Marquez…. or Crutchlow for that matter. He finishes about as well as sattelite rider Nakagami. Zarco, Olivera or Kallio certainly don’t seem to be able to ride the KTM well enough to impress anybody.

        You have to throw out Lorenzo. It’s not the bike, it’s the rider. He isn’t even trying at this point.

        • Dave says:

          Lorenzo can’t be “thrown out”, he is one of the best riders of this era and thus far, the Honda is the only bike he’s failed to win on in his long career. That’s bad.

    • Provologna says:

      Hot Dog’s definition of “cow pie:” opinions with which I disagree.

  6. joe b says:

    That was fast, I know everyone wants to see if Zarco can go faster on the Honda, than the KTM. For whatever reason, Lorenzo just didnt jell with the Honda, then crashed. I thought it would have fit him like an old shoe, but I was wrong. Lorenzo, seems to be taking his time with learning how to ride his Honda. Will Zarco, be fast right off, or will he be like Lorenzo, lost and having the same difficulties? Maybe the last 3 races wont be that boring, with the action behind the front, and the camera/commentary will focus on them, and not just the leaders. ( and show Rossi, struggling)

  7. Nojapan says:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DWGqUOVVAAAP9Kv.jpg

    The “rising sun” flag print on the helmet can be controversial in Asian culture.

  8. Curt says:

    Glad Zarco has a ride for a bit, and sincerely wish him the best. Don’t think anything will come of it, for many reasons – even if he had the necessary amount of time to get accustomed to the bike and team, no one but MM has done anything even remotely special with this year’s Honda. One could argue that Zarco’s taste in bikes resembles Lorenzo’s, and, well, we know how THAT is going.

    • VLJ says:

      He won’t be riding this year’s Honda. He’ll be riding Nakagami’s 2018 model, which isn’t quite as reluctant as the 2019 model is to turn.

      Regardless, he’s not going to do anything on the 2018 model either.

  9. David Evans says:

    When Rossi trailed the hapless it was called applying pressure. They’d been Rossi’d.

  10. David Evans says:

    When Rossi did that it was called “applying pressure”.

  11. mickey says:

    Don’t imagine this marriage will last. Also don’t expect Zarco to be within 1 1/2 secs of the leader in lap times or place higher than 15th place during the race.

    • Jeremy says:

      I don’t know… Nakagami rides the 2018 bike. Lorenzo liked that bike and was quite fast on it the few times he got to ride it before injuring himself in a training incident.

      I’ll go out on a limb and put Zarco in the top 10 for the three remaining races.

      • mickey says:

        that might be a thin limb Jeremy lol

        • Jeremy says:

          Lol, thin indeed. But I’m gonna climb out there and bounce on it anyway!

          • mickey says:

            lol well then I hope it’s not too high off the ground.

            Watched FP 4 and Q1 and Q2 today.

            Lorenzo isn’t even trying. A full 2 1/2 seconds off the pace. An injured Nakagami was much faster on the 18 and almost transferred to Q2. I think he is starting 13 and Lorenzo 19th.

            Lorenzo is going to make Marquez win the team title all by himself.

          • Jeremy says:

            Yeah, I know what you mean about Lorenzo. I just don’t think he’s pushing at all. He says he’s committed to finish out the contract, but I just can’t see him – or Honda – going through another season like this.

  12. Provologna says:

    Starting about 6 years ago (except for the year MM had frame problems) until the last few races, MM would just sail off into the sunset from flag to flag. More recently we see MM chasing one or two hapless suckers for 70% of the “race” (as if), then one hapless sucker, then MM squeaks by within the last lap or two. (Wow, how very “thrilling”…/sarc off.)

    Does anyone else conclude that the MogoGP brain trust has palpable evidence of diminishing series interest (as in diminishing profits or flat profits that were increasing) attributable solely to MotoGP now being officially a one-horse race w/colorful also-rans, till the early-mid 2030’s or whenever MM decides to retire? (At the tender age of 42, NFL QB Tom Brady is a strong threat to win his 7th SB Ring.)

    Serious Q. My friend wants to know.

    In a similar vein: circa 2016 MotoGP had an opportunity for a Champion not named MM, when Rossi had his big dustup with MM. But the Spanish brain trust could not and would not tolerate crowning an Italian Champion when they could insure MM’s crown by forcing Rossi’s last row start for the last race.

    If the answer to my Q above is yes: I further wonder, with perfect hindsight of course, if it has occurred to the Spanish brain trust that their coffers might be more flush if they risked breaking up the monotony w/a potential non-Spaniard Champion named Rossi.

    Just sayin…

    • mickey says:

      None of the above

    • TimC says:

      I actually did read all that, and still must say

      WUT

    • Jeremy says:

      If the press is to be believed, MotoGP has been doing really well financially and with respect to attendance. They’ve added new tracks, and that isn’t easy to do if promoters or Dorna think they’ll lose money.

      MotoGP did well when Rossi was dominating in the prior decade. It is doing well currently as Marquez dominates, now. The series really only suffered in between the two dynasties.

      Perhaps a dominant hero, so long as the races themselves are still exciting, has the opposite effect of what you propose and actually increases viewership? I don’t know the answer to that, but it seems so long as there is some good racing – and MotoGP has had some fantastic races these past few years – people will tune in or attend to watch and can enjoy the series race by race without much care to what the point count is throughout the season.

      I personally pay my money for the video pass to watch the races, not the championship. If there happens to be a tight points race between one or more riders, that’s just icing on the cake. And as for the Spanish conspiracy stuff, I don’t buy it.

      • Dave says:

        Insightful post. When MotoGP was suffering, it was the expense of participation that dwindled the field. We weren’t really watching “racing” between riders, but wallets.

        I have noticed over the years that when a sport really captures the imagination and attention of the public to such a degree that it causes a shift in viewer demographics, it usually comes down to one athlete (and it helps if they have a worthy adversary), whether it’s an individual or team sport. Michael Schumacher, Michael Jordan, Daniel Ronaldo, Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Velention Rossi.

        Marc Marquez?

      • VLJ says:

        In terms of the continued worldwide popularity of MotoGP, it’s not because of Marquez. It’s still Rossi.

        • Jeremy says:

          The shift from the VR46 church to the MM93 church is well underway. Rossi is still a hugely important figure in MotoGP, but he is no longer the keystone, imo.

          • VLJ says:

            He is, in terms of worldwide popularity. MotoGP still moves more VR46 gear than that of all the other riders combined. TV contracts, track attendance, the majority of the promotional materials, VR remains the linchpin behind the continued success of MotoGP.

            As great as Mark is, he can’t shoulder that load. He simply doesn’t have the same magnetism, the same charisma. With all that he’s already accomplished on the track, particularly since it occurred during the sunset of Rossi’s career, he should have at least drawn level with Rossi in terms of worldwide notoriety/popularity. When Rossi was in the midst of his era of similar dominance, he flat-out owned the camera, the microphone, the keyboard.

            It’s just different with that guy. Marc simply doesn’t have the same ‘It’ factor. Lorenzo definitely doesn’t have it—he has even less than Marc—and Maverick is about as compelling as day-old oatmeal.

            Perhaps Quatararo has a bit of that indefinable star quality, as Marco Simoncelli did, as Kevin Schwantz did, but without a Rossi/Marquez level of victories and championships, nope, #20’s run will have no real legs.

          • Jeremy says:

            I don’t know how to quantify the number of Rossi and Marquez fans, but it seems from recent races that MM93 is very well represented. As much so as Rossi in a lot of places.

            As far as magnetism and charisma, to each his own, I suppose. I like Marquez’s personality better than I ever liked Rossi.

            I don’t think Rossi will be racing after 2020. The sun has set on his illustrious reign. A red, white and orange sun.

          • VLJ says:

            Fairly easy to quantify popularity in the Digital Age. Simply tally up the amount of signature gear they sell, the number of online followers they have, the number of hits their name produces in any websearch, etc.

            Q rating.

            Rossi is still the Q Rating colossus of MotoGP. In terms of worldwide popularity, not only has the sport never seen his equal, there has never even been a close second.

          • mickey says:

            I dont know if its just the TV coverage but the red sea is very prevalent in the grand stands. Not as much as Rossi yellow, yet, but Rossi had a head start with a fan base. Id say by 2023 the red sea will outnumber the yellow cloud.

        • Provologna says:

          VLJ’s posts above absolutely nail my feelings on the subject, much better than I could state.

          The most recent new and revitalized MotoGP tracks might and could correlate more to Rossi’s popularity than MM’s.

          When I saw MM win @ COTA, a fan said Re. MM, “Success breeds popularity.” Always? Ask the fans of 31 of 32 NFL teams their opinion of the Patriots, who won 6 of 9 Super Bowl appearances (the Pats appeared in ONE HALF of all SBs since 2001). Brady turns 43 next August, and has many times been hammered to the turf by fast running men who outweigh Brady by 75+#.

          MM may be repeating till the mid-late 2030s. Raise your hand if you think this is good for the sport.

          I don’t even know why, but I just could not get enough of Rossi crushing Max Biaggi, race after race. I was right there next to Valentino, slaying fire breathing dragons, whisking damsels in distress to safety, and their loving everlasting embrace.

          MM, not so much.

          • Jeremy says:

            “I was right there next to Valentino, slaying fire breathing dragons, whisking damsels in distress to safety, and their loving everlasting embrace.”

            Haha. Very poetic and entertaining. The reason it isn’t Marquez for you is because you already have a dog in the fight. You’ve slayed dragons and rescued damsels with Rossi. For the next generation, Marquez is that guy. For you, he is just an usurper pillaging your fortunes and raping your damsels. You stand by the old king, even if he is doomed… A noble end for you both.

            The comparison to the NFL isn’t completely relevant in my opinion since there is such a localized fan base for each team. You know who isn’t tired of watching the Patriots win? Patriots fans.

            Apart from some nationalism for Italian and Spanish fans in particular, MotoGP doesn’t really have that. You can pick your horse. Why does Rossi have so many fans? Because he won so much, and people want to pick a winner. Marquez went from a splattering of #93 flags in the stands to nearly as many as Rossi for the same reason.

          • Provologna says:

            Jeremy,
            Your post is very thoughtful, but not quite accurate.

            It’s not that I slayed dragons with Rossi and don’t like that someone else is slaying dragons instead of Rossi.

            I never met either Rossi or MM, and never shall (I do have a pro image of my face up close to Kevin Schwantz). To me, MM just seems to be devoid of charisma, in the extreme.

            When it was Schwantz vs. King Kenny I always rooted for Kevin because I loved Suzuki. As soon as Schwantz quit, I loved Kenny, again, just because Kevin, Kenny, and Rainey all seem to ooze charisma, something I seem to find impossible to detect in MM.

            I’m not saying it’s me. It might be me.

            I once met and talked with a high end (XX chromosome) clothing model; we considered dating. Any other guy I knew at the time would have cut off a little body part to get in with this woman. I felt no particular “spark” w/her, so that was that. That lack of spark was just a lack of a chemical reaction.

            Even though it’s from afar in both cases of Rossi and MM, toward the former there’s an attraction, I’d love to share time with him, toward the latter, zilch, dead fish hand shake, etc.