MotoGP interview: Romain Guillot, Johann Zarco’s physical trainer, answers our questions…

Even by the general public, there is no doubt that Johann Zarco is a high-level athlete, as outside of the Grand Prix we see him, for example, regularly climbing Mont Ventoux by bike or snorkelling.

However, on many occasions, the French champion mentioned in his career debriefings that could suffer from a lack of energy in the second part of the race, due to a physically demanding Ducati. We also saw a glaring example of this with his reactions in the “cool room” after his second place finish at the Sachsenring.

How can we make ourselves understand, poor basic motorcyclists, how physically difficult it is to ride a MotoGP, be it on a muscular, cardiac or respiratory level?

We asked for it Romain Guillotthe physical trainer of John Zarcoto enlighten us…

Romain Guillot : “ It is not easy to do this analysis because the answers are always multifactorial. I’m not necessarily talking about Johann’s particular case, but theoretically you can have a drop in energy simply because you’re a little less well trained than others, and that day the intensity is such that you can’t sustain it. this It happens to all athletes, regardless of sport. But then, the drop in energy may be due to the fact that you are not really comfortable with a particular track. You have a bike setup that allows you to go fast, but to be able to go fast you compensate more than necessary. So you manage to maintain a certain pace for a few laps, but at some point, because you have physically compensated for the lack of ease on your bike and on the track, you have less room and if you don’t want to start. on land, your time is less good. It’s always a good balance between general physical condition, and that’s why you have to be super trained otherwise you can’t ride a MotoGP, and manage to find the right compromise between performance and comfort, if I may say so, because these are prototypes that are not absolutely comfortable anyway. The pilot must be able to have the impression of going fast without forcing. It’s always a story of balance between the two, because if you just compensate with the physical, it can certainly work but it’s not sure that it will work for a long time. »

Isn’t MotoGP more demanding in a specific area, muscular or cardiac? Is it a set?
Yes, it’s a set. Then it also changes depending on the tracks. For example in Austin, which a priori is a very physical and very demanding circuit, there you can have muscular tetany that will pass. This is why many have had compartment syndrome surgery. So depending on the characteristics of the circuits, maybe one time will be more physically demanding, for example braking. Then, at circuits like Malaysia where it’s very hot and very humid, it’s clearly the endurance and your ability to withstand the heat that will be the impact factor of your power drop. That’s why I told you it was always multifactorial. »

If we ask you Johann’s strong point physically?
(Laughs) it’s hard to answer because all MotoGP riders are very complete. And then, you’ll ask me for the weak point, so I won’t be able to answer you (laughs). »

Can you tell us about the heart rate, because for us the general public the numbers we see on the screen are quite disparate but all impressive?
To simplify for the general public, because later people always come to you and say “yeah, but…” even if it’s just for the speed aspect, the heart rate will go very high for the pilot anyway. When we ride a carousel, while we are sitting in a carriage, the notion of speed quickens our pace, even though we have done nothing and have not moved from the seat. This is a first notion. Then, in any case, the pilots find themselves in a machine that they will try to dominate and that they will almost try to resist rather than act on. When you accelerate, it’s so powerful that you have to make sure you don’t fall apart, so you’ll be holding on, with your arms and legs. Braking, it’s the same, you have to take the fact of going from 250 to 100 km/h all of a sudden, and again, it’s with your arms and legs. All this, at some point, involves a very important physical effort which, added to the speed, makes the heart beat very fast, and you have very few moments to rest! This is perhaps what is difficult for people to realize, saying that they are “only” riding a motorcycle: but these motorcycles are prototypes and we cannot imagine, first of all, the effort it requires. So we don’t realize the effort that is there, which is always in the resistance, to prevent the bike somewhere from punishing the rider. Finally, it’s a bit like rodeo: if you don’t control your mount, it sends you out. »

What also surprises the general public, again in terms of heart rate, is the big difference between, say, Maverick Viñales and the others…
Honestly, I have a hard time understanding it too, so I can’t answer that question. »

In the starting grid, is stress a major factor in the acceleration of the heart rate?
Yes, it raises it, but not very high because at this level they are used to handling stress. So that’s not what really influences it, but as soon as the engine starts and you start doing your first lap, it’s gone and then it goes up pretty quickly with the first few laps. After the moment of departure, it rises quite quickly, and then it is constant. The goal is to have your heart rate as low as possible throughout the race. The lower the heart rate, the more, somewhere, it will mean that you are in full control of your machine, beyond the fact that you are well trained. Of course, if you are not well trained, at some point it will be difficult for your heart to be low, even if you have perfect control of your machine. That’s why you have to be very trained, and at the same time have a good mastery of your machine. And having good control of your machine doesn’t necessarily mean having a machine that fits your style perfectly: good control of your machine means being able to do what is necessary for your machine to perform at its best. »

How long does it take for the heart to return to its normal rhythm after crossing the finish line?
It goes pretty fast. After the lap of honor, they were almost back to their level. »

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