Johann Zarco admitted that he “felt so calm” when crossing the line to take his first MotoGP victory in the Australian Grand Prix, his first in any class since 2016.

The Pramac Ducati rider stitched together a clever 27-lap outing at Phillip Island, the Frenchman’s decision to heavily save his medium-compound rear tyre allowing him to attack the riders in front in the closing stages.

Having run fifth behind series leader Francesco Bagnaia for the bulk of the encounter as he looked after his rubber, Zarco began to move forward as the race entered its final quarter as he saw team-mate Jorge Martin begin to struggle on his soft-compound rear tyre.
Having first dispatched Bagnaia he then moved clear of the battling Brad Binder and Fabio Di Gianantonio to start the final lap in second, less than half a second behind the ailing Martin.

Zarco then dived down the inside of the Spaniard at Turn 4 to secure the leadership, the two-time Moto2 world champion holding off a chasing Bagnaia in the concluding corners to finally secure his first premier class win in his 120th series start.
He admitted that he “felt so calm” when taking the chequered flag, adding that he had joined the “big guys” by winning at the renowned Phillip Island venue.

“This feels quite good because you always try and push to get it (win), but you have to say other riders have got the pace and the feeling to do it,” said Zarco.

“Until you find the feeling also, it’s impossible to catch the win. Pecco got it and has won so many races, and it’s Jorge’s (Martin) time now, and in qualifying he’s doing amazing things.

“We’ll see what we can do in the future, but I’ll sleep well tonight as to win at Phillip Island in the dry is great as it’s a track we all like because you feel you are part of the big guys when you win here.

“I felt so calm in the moment (crossing the line), I was like ‘this is it, it’s done’ and it felt so good. The emotion then came, and it was great to get the congratulations from the other riders.”

Zarco described the decision to stick with the medium rear tyre as “important” in his quest for success, describing that he knew the win was potentially on as he saw his team-mate falling back towards the chasing group with around five laps remaining.

“This was a special one, and the choice of the medium tyre was important. I was thinking when I saw Jorge pull away that I could at least fight for the podium, second wouldn’t be easy but I felt it was possible,” continued Zarco.

“But the last five laps when Jorge began to drop away, I felt something even more was possible.

“I was thinking I had to be behind Jorge by the last couple of laps or the final one because I tried to really look after my rear tyre, and then maybe on the last lap use my acceleration (to get past.)

“I understood five laps from the end that Jorge was possible to catch, so I overtook the others. I could maybe have passed Jorge at Turn 6 they way I passed Marc (Marquez) earlier in the race, but if I waited one of the others might have attacked me.”

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