MotoGP Interview: Romain Guillot, Johan Zarco's physical trainer, answers our questions…

MotoGP Interview: Romain Guillot, Johan Zarco’s physical trainer, answers our questions…

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

However, in many cases, the French champion is mentioned in it analysis of races that he may suffer from a lack of energy in the second part of the race, due to the physically demanding Ducati. We also saw a clear example of this with his reaction in the “cold room” after his second place at the Sachsenring.

How do you make us poor common motorcyclists understand how physically demanding MotoGP is, on a muscle, heart or breath level?

We asked Romain Guillotphysical trainer c Johann Zarkoto enlighten us…

Romain Guillot : “ This analysis is not easy to do because the answers are always multifactorial. I’m not necessarily talking about Johan’s specific case, but on a theoretical level you can have a drop in energy simply because you’re a little less well-prepared than others and the intensity is such that you can’t keep it up that day. It happens to all athletes, regardless of the sport. But then the drop in energy may be due to the fact that you don’t really like a certain track. You have a bike setup that makes you go fast, but to be able to go fast, you compensate more than you need to. So you manage to maintain a certain rhythm for a few laps, but at some point, because you have physically compensated for the lack of lightness on the bike and on the track, you have less margin and if you don’t want to put yourself on the ground, your time is less good. It’s always a fine balance between overall fitness and that’s why you have to be super fit or you won’t be able to ride in MotoGP, and manage to find the right compromise between performance and comfort, so to speak, because these are prototypes that are absolutely not comfortable anyway . The pilot must have the impression that he is going fast, without forcing. It’s always a story of balance between the two, because if you compensate only physically, it can definitely work, but it can’t be said that it will work for very long. »

Isn’t MotoGP more demanding on a certain area, muscular or cardiac? Is this a set?
Yes, this is a set. Afterwards, it also changes depending on the tracks. For example, in Austin, which a priori is a very physical circuit and very demanding, muscle tetany can occur there. Therefore, many were operated on for compartment syndrome. So, depending on the characteristics of the chains, maybe one day it will be more physically demanding, like braking. Going forward, on tracks like Malaysia where it’s very hot and very humid, obviously endurance and your ability to handle the heat will be a major factor in your energy drop. That’s why I told you it was always multi-factorial. »

If we ask you, is John’s strong point physically?
(Laughs) It’s a difficult question to answer because all the MotoGP riders are very good. And then you ask me a weak point, so I won’t be able to answer (laughs). »

Can you tell us the heart rate because for us the general public the numbers we see on the screen are quite different but all impressive?
To simplify for the general public, because then people always come to tell you “yeah, but…”, at least in terms of speed, the pilot’s heart rate will be very high anyway. When we ride a merry-go-round while we’re just sitting in the van, the concept of speed quickens our pace, even though we’ve done nothing and haven’t moved. . This is the first thought. Afterwards, in any case, the pilots are on a machine that they will try to master and that they will almost try to resist rather than act on. It’s so strong under acceleration that you have to be careful not to get thrown off your feet, so you’re going to be grabbing with your arms and legs. Braking, it’s the same, you have to accept the fact of suddenly going from 250 to 100 km/h, and again, it’s with your hands and feet. All of this at a certain point requires a very high physical effort, which, combined with the speed, makes the heart beat very fast, and you have very little time to rest! This is perhaps something that people struggle to understand when they tell themselves that they “only” ride a motorcycle: but these motorcycles are prototypes, and we cannot imagine, especially me, the effort involved. Therefore, we are not aware of the effort that is always made in the resistance to prevent the bike from punishing the rider somewhere. Finally, it’s a bit like a rodeo: if you don’t control your mount, it sends you out. »

What also surprises the general public, again with regard to heart rate, is the large difference that exists between, for example, Maverick Viñales and others…
To be honest, it’s hard for me to understand too, so I can’t answer that question. »

On the starting grid, is stress an important factor in heart rate?
Yes, it raises it, but not very high, because at that level they are used to managing stress. So it’s not something that really makes an impact, but once the engine starts and you start doing your first lap, it’s gone and after that it picks up pretty quickly with the first turns. After the moment of departure, it rises rather quickly, and then it is constant. The goal is to have the lowest possible heart rate throughout the race. The lower your heart rate, the more somewhere it will mean that you are in complete control of your car, in addition to being well prepared. Of course, if you’re not well prepared, at some point your heart rate will struggle to be low, even if you have great control over your car. That’s why you have to be very prepared, and at the same time have a good command of your car. And good control of your car doesn’t necessarily mean having a car that perfectly matches your style: good control of your car means being able to do whatever it takes to keep your car running at its best. »

How long does it take for the heart to return to a normal rhythm after crossing the finish line?
It happens quite quickly. After the lap of honor, they are almost back to their level. »

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