MotoGP: Zarco starting the season ‘wishing to win’

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French MotoGP racer Johann Zarco says he’s starting his second season in the class on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike ‘wishing to win,’ when the series bursts back into action this weekend at the opening round in Qatar.

Leading the race for the first six laps last year – and for the first six laps of his career in the premier class – before crashing out, he says that with twelve months of experience and a highly successful testing program completed he’s happy he won’t repeat the mistake again this year.

“The season is about to start and I’m pretty happy for that. The last test in Qatar has been great, finishing with the best lap time gave the team and myself a very high motivation and good confidence. We know, we still have things to work on to be able to fight for the victory. But I can start the first race weekend of the year with the wish to fight for the win and I’m pretty happy to have this feeling already before the first competition. I want to keep enjoying! Let’s see what the race weekend in Qatar has to give to us.”

His team boss Herve Poncharal shares his rider’s optimism too, admitting that he can’t wait to help Zarco build on his successes of last season.

“Finally, testing is over and we can start racing now. As Monster Yamaha Tech3, I believe we are ready, we’ve done a very determined and positive job in preparation and Johann feels more than ready to start the season with a very strong feeling, thanks to the great feedback he has found riding his new bike, especially during the last two tests in Thailand and Qatar. He has shown the world, that he’s a part of the top five MotoGP riders and his intention is to start the 2018 season where he left off in 2017.”

However, while he might be ready to finally go racing, Poncharal also admitted that he’s relieved to be getting the season underway after a stressful pre-season that saw Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin signed up to replace the unwell Jonas Folger at the eleventh hour.

“On the other side of the garage, clearly, it’s been an incredible mission, tough but very exciting to find a replacement rider for Jonas Folger, who unfortunately decided to skip 2018. I have to say, that sometimes bad luck or struggles emerge to a very interesting situation, which is exactly what is happening now. We are more than happy to have Hafizh Syahrin with us. He’s a very talented young rider and a charming guy, plus I believe he has already, but hopefully he will again surprise quite a few people in our paddock.

“So, I’d like to really warmly welcome him to the Monster Yamaha Tech3 family and wish him the best for this so important season for his future. All together with Johann Zarco on top of his art and Hafizh Syahrin eager to show his potential, we are going to start FP1 in Losail, Qatar with a big smile on our faces and with a lot of hopes and dreams for the 2018 season. Let the show begin!”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer