Press Releases: Johann Zarco, 2015 Moto2 World Champion

The withdrawal of Tito Rabat from the Motegi round of Moto2, suffering a lack of strength in the arm he broke in a training accident last week, removed the last obstacle between Johann Zarco and the 2015 Moto2 world championship. With a 78-point lead over Rabat and the Spaniard unable to score any more points, Zarco will leave Motegi with an unassailable lead. With his crown secured, Dorna and his Ajo Racing team put out the following press releases celebrating Zarco's 2015 Moto2 title.

Johann Zarco
2015 Moto2 World Champion

It's been a long road for Johann Zarco, but the Japanese GP sees him become the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion.

Johann Zarco took his first steps towards a life filled with racing when he began racing minibikes in Italy, finishing second overall in 2005 and 2006. He joined the Red Bull Rookies Cup during its inaugural year in 2007 and became their first champion with four victories and seven podiums in eight races. Two years later, the pilot from Cannes, France made his debut in the 125cc World Championship with the WTR San Marino Team where he ended the year in 20th position, improving to 11th the following year.

In 2011 the Frenchman evolved, jumping to the Avant AirAsia Ajo Derbi team and conquering ten podiums together, pushing for the 125cc title till the end. In Motegi, just four races from the end of the year, Zarco took a career first victory but in the end finished second to Spaniard Nico Terol in the championship. His solid performance granted him 262 championship points and also earned him a ride in the Moto2™ World Championship with Team JiR in 2012.

It was not an easy rookie season for Zarco aboard the MotoBi, but he was near the podium on several occasions including the Portuguese GP. He ended the year with 95 points and inside the top ten. 2013 saw him join the Came Iodaracing Project mounted on the more competitive Suter frame and Zarco delivered on his potential with two podiums, a third in both Mugello and Valencia. Again, Zarco became a rider to watch.

For 2014 Zarco joined the new Caterham squad, riding a revised Suter frame. It was a mixed season with four podiums and several crashes, especially during the start of the year. Then in 2015 came the turning point, Zarco rejoined Aki Ajo under the Ajo Motorsport banner in the Finn’s newly formed Moto2™ team and Zarco found himself on the much desired Kalex. Aside from Qatar, 2015 was a year without fault and at round three in Argentina, Zarco took his first win in the class. From that moment he took over the championship lead and it grew with each round. Repeated triumphs were repeated celebrated with a trademark backflip, a highlight of the season was his run of three wins from the Czech GP to the San Marino GP. It was in Motegi, where he took his first victory back in 2011 on the 125cc Derbi, that Zarco was crowned the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion.

A dominant seasons sees Zarco become the most successful French rider in history and take the 2015 Moto2™ World Championship.

The seeds of Johann Zarco’s 2015 Moto2™ World Championship title were born at the end of 2014 when acclaimed manager Aki Ajo began to build the foundations for a Moto2™ team. After years of success in the lightweight class, the Finn set his eyes on success in the intermediate class and needed a rider with the talent and dedication to start the adventure with, Ajo’s eyes fell squarely on Johann Zarco. The Frenchman had shown his speed on the Caterham last year, securing four podiums amongst a sea of Kalexs.

Ajo and Zarco had worked together previously in the 125cc championship when Zarco challenged for the title in 2011 on the Derbi. At Valencia in mid-November they got their first chance to reunite during testing and the potential in the team, bike and rider was immediately noticeable. In the build up to the season it was clear that defending Moto2™ champion Tito Rabat would be the man to beat, but Sam Lowes on the Speed Up also emerged as a real title threat during winter testing. With two of Moto3™’s brightest stars, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez also in the mix, the battle for the 2015 crown was set to be a tight one.

Qualifying in Qatar delivered on the off season predictions with Lowes, Zarco and Rabat all lining up on the front row. Disaster struck in the race for all three, Zarco experienced a technical problem with his Kalex that saw him unable to shift gears in the closing laps. After a near run in with the pitwall, the Frenchman ended in eighth as Jonas Folger took a surprise win.

The paddock headed to Austin with Zarco and the Ajo Motorsport squad determined to leave the Qatar incident behind them. A solid second place behind a blistering Lowes thrust Zarco back to the sharp end of the championship table.

Argentina saw Zarco’s first truly dominant performance, pole position followed by a comfortable victory of over 2.5 seconds. At the Termas de Rio Hondo the partnership between Ajo and Zarco began to flourish as they took the lead in the Moto2™ World Championship.

>From this point Zarco’s confidence, and points lead, began to grow and the rider from Cannes began to gain momentum. The likes of Folger, Lüthi and Rabat all challenged him as the championship returned to Europe, Zarco claimed second in a hectic last lap at Jerez and was forced to settle for third at home in Le Mans. Even in his attempts to limit the damage, the Frenchman stretched his lead as his rivals faltered.

After Mugello, where he finished second, Zarco’s season came alive with back to back wins, and backflips, in Barcelona and Assen. Much like Argentina, Zarco converted pole position to victories in both races, closing considerable gaps in the final laps and proving he was a threat at every stage of the race. A solid second in Germany allowed Zarco to head into the mid-season break with the luxury of the title lead.

Indianapolis saw Zarco return immediately to form with another second place. By this stage in the season Zarco was the title favourite and while still aiming for race wins, he began to consider the season as a whole. It was back to the top step of the podium in Brno for Zarco, taking his fourth win of the year. Silverstone and Misano continued to the same beat as Zarco dominated both races, claiming three victories in a row.

The Aragon GP played host to Zarco’s first shot at the tile, the Frenchman needing to finish seven points ahead of Rabat to gain the 2015 crown. A smart and safe ride saw the Ajo Motorsport rider finish in sixth, forcing him to wait until Motegi.

It would be at the Japanese Grand Prix, the sight of his first ever World Championship win, that Johann Zarco became the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion. Tito Rabat was unable to start the Japanese GP due to injury, cementing Zarco's title before the race. The Frenchman was officially declared as the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion after FP1.

  • Zarco is the first French rider to win the Moto2 world title.
  • He is the fourth French rider to win the intermediate-class world title, joining Jean-Louis Tournadre (250cc – 1982), Christian Sarron (250cc – 1984) and Olivier Jacque (250cc – 2000).
  • He is the first French rider to win a world title in any of the three grand prix classes since Mike di Meglio won the 125cc championship in 2008.
  • During 2015 Zarco became the first French rider ever to win three successive races in any class of grand prix racing.
  • During 2015 Zarco won a total of six Moto2 races - the greatest number of GP victories ever achieved in a single season by a French rider.
  • On his way to winning the world title Zarco set a new record of twelve successive Moto2 podium finishes.

Johann Zarco: 2015 Moto2 World Champion

Ajo Motorsport rider takes the world title at Twin Ring Motegi, after rival Tito Rabat pulls out of Japanese Grand Prix on opening day.

10/09/2015 - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

This Friday at Motegi saw Johann Zarco and Ajo Motorsport crowned Moto2 World Champions for the first time. The Frenchman, who before beginning the Japanese GP had a lead of 78 points over his only title rival, Tito Rabat, was automatically proclaimed World Champion in the intermediate category after the withdrawal through injury of the Spaniard at the end of Free Practice 1. Zarco thus wrapped up the title with some four races remaining.

Part of the Ajo Motorsport brand new structure in the intermediate category, Zarco has enjoyed a dream season. In his fourth year in Moto2, the 25-year-old has thus far managed a total of 12 podiums –all consecutive and 6 of them victories– from 14 Grands Prix.

With a total of 284 points, Johann Zarco and Ajo Motorsport are new Moto2 World Champions 2015. Both wish Tito Rabat a speedy recovery from his injury, and are focused on capping the weekend with a victory at the 15th round of the season.

A season to remember

Ajo Motorsport rider has had a dream season in 2015, matched by few in World Championship history.

10/09/2015 - Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

12 podiums —6 victories— from 14 Grands Prix and Moto2 World Champion with 4 races remaining, thanks to a 78-point advantage over his nearest rival. The figures make for an impressive résumé for Johann Zarco, who has been one of the standouts in all of racing along with his Ajo Motorsport team in 2015. His season began with a mechanical failure denying him a first victory in the class. 14 rounds later, Johann Zarco is Moto2 World Champion.

1 –Grand Prix of Qatar
Position: 8

Johann Zarco had a frustrating start to the season in Qatar. After starting from second position and leading for almost the entirety of the race, the Frenchman had a gear shift problem just three laps from the end. Completing the race with only third gear, he placed eighth.

2 – Grand Prix of the Americas
Position: 2

The GP of the Americas was an exciting race that was not decided until the final laps. Johann Zarco led the way for a long period of the contest, but was overtaken by Sam Lowes 5 laps from the end in an intense and exciting battle. The Ajo Motorsport rider would eventually place second and take his first podium of the season.

3 – Argentinian Grand Prix
Position: 1

At the Grand Prix in Argentina, Johann Zarco showed his desire to win right from the opening practice sessions. The Frenchman had a perfect weekend, setting the best times in practice and carrying the form over to race day. Starting from pole, he took his first win in the Moto2 class after a tussle with Rins and Lowes. The victory took him to the top of the standings for the first time –a position he would hold for the remainder of the season.

4 – Spanish Grand Prix
Position: 2

The Spanish GP weekend was not an easy one for Zarco. The Ajo Motorsport rider, who started from ninth on the grid, took an impressive second place in the end –moving up two places due to an incident between Rins and Rabat on the final corner. It marked a third consecutive podium for him, and increased his advantage in the overall standings.

5 –French Grand Prix
Position: 3

Le Mans hosted the fifth round of the season –a home race for Zarco. He started from third and took the lead on the opening laps. First overtaken by Luthi, then by Rabat in the final third of the race, Zarco rounded off the podium in third –his fourth consecutive rostrum finish.

6 – Italian Grand Prix
Position: 2

The strong performance of reigning World Champion Tito Rabat stopped Zarco from winning on Italian soil. He placed sixth in qualifying but challenged Rabat for the win on the final laps of the race, but it was not to be. He did, however, keep up his podium streak, and further increased his advantage in the overall standings.

7 – Catalan Grand Prix
Position: 1

Johann Zarco showed his cards early at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya, dominating practice. Taking off from pole on race day, he took the win after overtaking Alex Rins and Tito Rabat on the final lap. It was a perfect weekend for the series leader.

8 – Dutch TT Assen
Position: 1

Johann Zarco claimed a second consecutive victory of the season at Assen, despite a poor start from pole position. Chasing down Tito Rabat, the Ajo Motorsport rider had an entertaining duel with his rival on the final laps. It marked win number three of the season and gave his title chances a further boost.

9 – German Grand Prix
Position: 2

A fourth pole position of the season went to Zarco at Sachsenring. A great start opened up a gap for the Ajo Motorsport man in the early stages, although he would be passed by Xavier Simeon two laps from the end. The Belgian held off his attacks to become a first-time GP winner, but Zarco still enjoyed a positive weekend: A crash for Rabat in the closing stages meant the lead in the overall standings stood at 65 points going into the summer break.

10 –Indianapolis Grand Prix
Position: 2

Johann Zarco returned from the summer break to a track that he had admitted was not one of his strongest. He qualified eighth and, after a strong showing, was able to finish second. The Frenchman fought until the end for the win, which eventually went to Alex Rins. The Ajo Motorsport rider claimed his first podium at Indianapolis, but if felt like a victory. The race had been declared wet, although the majority of riders decided to start with slicks.

11 –Czech Grand Prix
Position: 1

Johann Zarco gave his rivals no chance at Brno, en route to a comfortable win from pole position. Although his start was not good, he kept up with Rabat and Luthi in third place before making his move with 19 laps to go. Pushing hard to establish an advantage, he claimed win number four of the campaign and celebrated with another backflip in the Czech Republic.

12 –British Grand Prix
Position: 1

Victory number five came at Silverstone on a damp track, drying out as the laps went by and making things tough for the riders on wet tyres. The Ajo Motorsport man was the rider to best adapt to the situation. He kept up an intense battle for the top spots, but it was not until two-thirds of the way in that he decided to make his attack. Once in the lead, he increased his advantage to claim another victory.

13 –San Marino Grand Prix
Position: 1

Zarco took a third win in a row in San Marino, starting from pole position. Wowing the crowd with an early battle against Dominique Aegerter, the way was cleared for him when his adversary crashed out in an incident with Alex Rins. Zarco used the situation to finish 3.8 seconds ahead of Tito Rabat, becoming the French rider with the most wins in a single season.

14 – Aragon Grand Prix
Position: 6

Zarco came into the Aragon GP with a first chance to clinch the Moto2 title. He needed to take his advantage over Tito Rabat to 100 points, but it was not an easy weekend for the Ajo Motorsport rider. He started from the front row, but saw that a win was not possible and decided to focus on the overall standings. Sixth place and 10 points took him one step closer to his dream.

15 – Japanese Grand Prix

Johann Zarco started the flyaway rounds with the desire to take the title at Twin Ring Motegi –the scene of his first Grand Prix win in 2011 (in 125cc). He did so in somewhat premature fashion, as his only title rival –Tito Rabat– was forced to pull out after an injury. That meant that Zarco was crowned Moto2 World Champion with four races remaining.

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during the first half of the season, I hadn't paid enough attention in other years. But Silverstone was the race in which I was convinced his title, which already seemed inevitable, was not simple happenstance due to injuries and a transitional grid (Miller skipped Moto2, Maverick left after an incredible rookie season, Rabat was hurt and unlucky all year long, Kallio left Mark VDS).

That race people gunning at each other as if it was the last race of the season and the winner would take all. Zarco suffered some borderline moves and was bumped down the order early on. And condition were far from ideal with the damp track and tyres literally throwing chunks of themselves all around. Still he kept a cool head and eventually made his way to the lead and won.

It was a very impressive ride which cemented what he had done all year long. That win, this season, no flukes in them.

Hats off. Congrats champion. Enjoy it.

I hope he has some incredible battles in 2016 and helps make Moto2 as exciting as we know it can be.

My first impressions of him were that he was somewhat wild. I think it was a wet race at LeMans on 125s. He's now become both clinical and combative. There was another dry race this season, probably Assen, where he came from way back, picked off the leading bunch one by one, and took the checkered flag.
The French have supported motorcycle racing since forever, so it's especially cool they've got themselves such a promising champion.

I've enjoyed watching Johann race and his post race interviews since his 125 days; we really wanted him to win that title in 2011. When I heard Ajo planned to run with him again in Moto2 this year I hoped for success but had no idea how dominant they would be.

Well done to all involved.

Let's see if he can defend his title next year.
He would be the first to do so.