MotoGP: Zarco’s race ended by tyre woes

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Monster Yamaha Tech 3 racer Johann Zarco saw his aspirations of completing the job he started last year and winning at the Losail circuit quashed in Sunday’s opening race of the 2018 MotoGP season when tyre woes put paid to his hopes. Crashing out of the lead of his first ever race in the class last year, it wasn’t to be this year again when he overloaded the front and was forced to settle for eighth.

Leading for most of the opening 17 laps of the 22-lap battle, the Frenchman looked almost flawless as he controlled the chasing pack as the race got underway. But, setting the pace for the whole field, he wasn’t able to maintain his consistency to the end.

“I had a good start and I took over the top, because I wanted to lead the race and then I was quite comfortable there, not able to be faster than the others, but nobody overtook me. I tried to control the rear grip well, to have always some possibilities to go out from the corner, which was working well. Then, seven laps to the end, I tried to push a bit more to maybe make a gap, but already during the race I had some limit feeling from the front, that I didn’t experience during the practice.

“When the other guys overtook me five laps to the end, I really understood, that I wasn’t able to use the front tyre on the right side anymore in the correct way, which is why I couldn’t fight. It was really difficult, a few times, I almost crashed and to finish eighth in the end, was better than nothing, because in this condition, it’s good to finish the race at all.”

And while he might have come away from the race disappointed to lose out on the chance to win after doing all the hard work, Zarco remains circumspect. Aware that it’s a long season and that he’s got better chances to win elsewhere, he says the most important thing is to take the positive and learn from the race.

“When you are doing this kind of sport, this can happen. That's why I keep smiling, and anyway, eighth position when you have a problem means you are competitive. I was leading the race and maybe I was slow but nobody overtook me, which means I was good.

“The feeling was different from last year while I was leading too, and that is why I want to lead races. The more I can do, the more it is becoming normal, and I think compared to last year, I was much more under control this year. So that was a great feeling. I was almost feeling slow, but if I am staying in front and nobody passes me, it means that we are not so slow!”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer