• Darren Sciberras

Pol or Zarco – Who’s to Blame?

A coming together like this always divides opinion. Viewpoints depend heavily on the perspective we look at them from i.e. a fan, competitor, team boss, race steward and of course riders themselves. So here is ours.


We’ll start off by saying yes these riders are supremely talented, we couldn’t ride as fast as them blah blah blah. Yes we know that.


However being extremely talented doesn’t excuse you from your brain. These are professional racers paid to deliver results and they are also extremely experienced by the time they reach the MotoGP class.


Image: Polarity Photo / KTM Factory Racing

Both played a Part


Anyone who follows MotoGP will have seen many similar incidents to this over the years, it’s a very common in double apex corners. The lead rider blows the first apex, runs wide, the following rider tries sneak up the inside and the 2 riders clash when they intersect the 2nd apex.


Turn 1 at Brno is similar in this way to turn 1 at Mugello and Dani Pedrossa Corner at Jerez (formerly Dry Sack). Even the last corner at Jerez.


These incidents happen all the time, especially in the junior classes.



So there is no doubt that once Pol had blown the first apex there was every chance the 2 were going to come together. With their years of experience both riders should have been very aware of that.


Technically speaking you can argue that Zarco was not quite far enough up the inside and had time to get out of the throttle before Pol came back in. Yet you could also argue Pol ran very wide in the first place and cut back to the race line quite aggressively, chopping across race lines is not cool any day of the week.


So ‘technically’ speaking we’d put the blame at 50/50 and if we were the stewards, we’d take that position. Both riders did nothing to avoid the potential accident and the potential for that accident was high and pretty obvious.


But this is MotoGP not lawn bowls (actually lawn bowls can get a bit feisty as well but you get the point). A bit of rubbing is racing and the riders would be criticised if they were too soft and just gave positions away. Us as fans actually encourage a bit of bar banging.


So let’s dig a bit deeper.



Who had more to Lose?


Now this is what really matters. Who had more to lose and who had the ‘stronger’ position. This is something every aspiring racer needs to understand and allow for.


Saying “he took me out” deliveries 0 points no matter how correct you are. While if we were stewards we’d go 50/50, from a team boss perspective it would be far from that.


Let’s start with Zarco, He was fighting for a podium but struggling to match the pace of the surprise packet KTM’s. He saw an opportunity, a gap opened up through no fault of his own so he went for it. It was probably a 60/40 chance but most importantly he was on the inside and far enough up the inside to have minimal risk of crashing himself if the 2 collided.


Sure it was a bit clumsy and aggressive but he had a stronger position than Pol. Furthermore, his performance through the long lap loop was mental and he finished on the podium. You might advise him to try get a little further up next time by opening the throttle a tiny bit more but you’d have to be ok with what he did if you were his team boss.

Pol on the other hand. Let’s first state we are massive fans of Pol, you just have to look to his sideways performance in qualifying at Valencia last year to appreciate this guy, he is a mega talent. However he also finds a way not deliver the results on race day too often.


Let's have a look at a few points:


· The KTM had race winning pace

· Pol was faster than Zarco

· Pol made the original mistake of running so wide. Not the first mistake he made in the lap leading up to the incident.

· Pol cut back to race line very aggressively

· Pol knew Zarco was right there, he had just passed him

· Pol should know that Zarco is a hard nut who never gives an inch.

· Here is the kicker, Pol was on the outside and as such had a much higher risk of crashing should they collide. This means he was in the much weaker position. A position he put himself in through his own mistake.


Unless Pol was 100% sure he was well enough in front of Zarco or anyone else on the inside he should not have cut back so aggressively, that was just dangerous. He was too wide mid turn just to come straight back to race line with no regard for the bikes around him.


KTM had the package for a 1-2 easily. In fact there was more than enough time for Pol to catch the impressive Binder.


If Pol did come back to the line a bit slower and more gently sure Zarco won the corner but it might have meant Pol won the race.


He might have ‘technically’ been in the right but you don’t find any trophies in the gravel trap.


The best of the best, the ones that have world championship blood in their veins are also cunning enough not to leave themselves as exposed as Pol did. They know whihch battles to fight and which ones to leave alone.


A MotoGP rider looking for results needs to have better race craft than that. Rather than chucking a little hissy fits they would be better focusing their attention on improving their race craft.


Sorry for Pol fans but that was a just dumb considering what was on the line. If I was his team boss he would hve received a boot up his rear end. So much investment from KTM into MotoGP, you shouldn't through potential results like that away.


Who knows maybe a bit of brain fade from seeing his rookie team mate disappearing.


The Penalty


Ooh and that penalty, do we think Zarco deserved it? Yes and for that matter if Pol didn’t crash we would have given the same long lap loop too. As we said, technically it was a 50/50.


Nothing wrong with having a go at opportunities like that but you must be prepared to cop a little bit of a penalty if you stuff it up. If Zarco got a little further up the inside, no penalty but he didn't.

That's our opinion, let us know yours.

Also let us know if Zarco deserves a 2nd trophy for how fast the took the long lap loop, that was sick!


How great is it to having race back!

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