Today’s MotoGP bikes are more powerful than ever. Johann Zarco proved as much when he set a new MotoGP top speed of 225 mph at the 2021 season opener in Doha, Qatar. Of course, it takes a lot of effort to slow down a bike that fast and several riders have suffered from compartment syndrome (arm pump) as a result.
With riders so heavy on the brakes, pressure in the forearm muscle continues to build up over the course of a race weekend. Eventually, the painful condition impacts on-track performance. Earlier in the season, championship leader Fabio Quartararo underwent arm pump surgery following an agonizing loss at the Spanish Grand Prix. Even earlier in the year, Ducati rider Jack Miller and Tech 3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona had the procedure done as well. Now, Pramac Ducati rider and one-time championship leader Johann Zarco will also go under the knife following a lapse in form following the summer break.
Going into the month-long series hiatus, Zarco trailed Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo by 34 points. However, the Frenchman’s second half of the 2021 season hasn’t been as successful. Now, with a 93-point disadvantage, Zarco practically has no chance at capturing the MotoGP rider championship. After a four consecutive finishes outside the top ten, Zarco is finally pulling the trigger on arm pump surgery.
“In Austria and Silverstone, I had the arm pump problem,” admitted Zarco. “Sometimes I say that if I feel good on the bike, I don’t have an “arm pump”, but we’ve reached a level where it seems that to be fast there is no other solution than having an arm pump (surgery).
Following the procedure, most riders regain their feel and response at the brake lever. As further proof, Fabio Quartararo remains a podium fixture in 2021 and Jack Miller won back-to-back races at the Spanish and French Grands Prix. Zarco is hopeful that the surgery will have similar results for him.
“We have reached a level where if we want to fight, it is physically difficult, but it is like doping,” added Zarco. “Having the surgery maybe will open my potential to another level and I will feel even better.”
The next MotoGP round will take place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on October 1-3, 2021. With a little over a week to heal, the Grand Prix of the Americas will give us our first glimpse of the Flying Frenchman after the surgery.