When Johann Zarco crashed out of the Indonesian MotoGP a few laps after his race leading team-mate, at the same corner, it looked like the Frenchman …
But Zarco later revealed he had spent his entire 14-lap race with the ride height device on his Pramac Ducati locked down.
The lowering device had been activated, as usual, for the start but didn’t return to its normal position at Turn 1.
The Frenchman decided to ride on and, although at the back of the field, was in 14th place when he fell at the same Turn 11 right-hander as Martin.
“The crash today is not the [main] problem of my race; from the first corner, my rear device remained down,” Zarco said. “I tried to understand if maybe my switch was on or off, but the switch was working well. It was just the system that stayed down.
“I tried to fight, but the bike was not turning. It took a bit of time to get used to but I was thinking if nothing feels dangerous I could ride with it.
“So I said, “OK, try to finish”. Because it was tricky conditions and I thought I might be able to take a few points or there might be a red flag and I could change the bike.
“But as I was getting used to this ‘new’ bike and trying to follow Morbidelli I made the mistake into Turn 11. I had it under control but in Turn 11 it was sliding so much.
“I tried to control a bit more with the rear brake. The rear slid and then the front closed, the same crash as Marc yesterday. I don’t know why this turn is more slippery than the others. I got two crashes this weekend and it was in this corner.
“So I could not take one point. I think if I would have finished the race then it would have been 15th position.”
While having the rear locked down was obviously a major setback in some areas, his best race lap was only 1.7s from the fastest of the race, by Enea Bastianini.
“You had to be a bit careful on the exit of some corners because it seems that the rear shock is not [working] anymore, so it is only on the tyre and sometimes the tyre is moving a lot,” Zarco explained.
“But for the braking, it can help a little bit, just it’s more difficult to bring the bike into the corner. You have to turn the bike a bit slower because you miss corner speed, but in the exit, it gives you good grip! It has been interesting! That’s why I wanted to continue to get information.”
Zarco also insisted it had not been a safety issue to ride on.
“It is not dangerous. For me, I think it is the first time [it’s happened]. I got a problem with the [ride height] switch in qualifying in Misano and today it was that the system stayed down.
“I could ride. If you are not crazy in your head then you could control it. I did a ‘32.6 so it was not bad! It is a bit less than two seconds slower, so it is still something you can [ride with] and it’s not dangerous.
“I think these kinds of problems will always help to get a better system in the future.”
The ride height setback follows missing out on fifth place in Japan after crashing moments before the red flag, then being ruled as not ‘active’ for the final results due to missing the official pitlane entry by five metres as he returned his damaged bike to the pits.
“It’s so crazy; all the unlucky moments are coming one-by-one in a row,” said Zarco, who has slipped from fifth in the world championship to seventh as a result of the non-scores in Japan and Indonesia.