Johann Zarco is always astonishing, but he needs to work hard on the final steps if he wants to reach his first victory in MotoGP. Last Sunday in Le Mans he conquered the pole positions, going so close he could taste the victory. But he made a mistake on Turn 8, crashing not only the French people dreams. Monsieur Zarco always amazes us with his soft and velvety riding style, his ability to avoid putting the tires under stress, and the fact that he never complains about Yamaha electronics. He managed to elegantly inherit the M1, a bike that was created to meet Jorge Lorenzo’s needs, often leaving his official colleagues Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales behind. Many people will miss him when he won’t stand in Yamaha’s pit anymore, but his destiny is written in KTM. There, he will finally find the factory bike he deserves and he will be taking up the leading-directing role that best suits him.
You had some contacts with HRC, and you could have ridden the fastest bike on the market. Why did you choose KTM instead?
We had been in touch with Honda, but the KTM manager really wanted to work with us and we wanted to take up a new challenge with a European contractor. We have noticed their fast growth and we realized that being the #1 rider in a team would have done us some good. Riding next to Marc can be both wonderful and arduous, these are the reasons.
Both Rossi and Viñales often complain about electronics, why don’t you do the same?
I don’t know why I don’t feel the need to complain about electronics, maybe it’s because I’m really enjoying myself with what I have now. There are so many options to deal with, I feel it’s already complicated enough. Sometimes I feel I’m struggling but I still can’t tell if it’s because I need more power, if I need a better electronic system or if there’s something else wrong with the bike; maybe the official riders’ expertise helps them understand when troubles come from electronics. But I decided not to stress myself with this thought.
What’s the secret that sometimes makes you faster than the official Yamaha’s riders?
There are no secrets to be ahead of Rossi and Viñales. I had an awesome end of the season in 2017, I had established a great pace I wanted to maintain in 2018 too, and I managed to do so. I was also a bit lucky in Jerez, but I always try to give it all: the bike is good and my riding style fits its tires.
Didn’t Yamaha offer you something to stay with them? Do you really think Vale cut you off the team?
Yamaha didn’t come forward with an offer for the future, maybe they wanted to wait a little longer but I wanted to keep on going. I thought I would have had some contacts by the end of 2017 but it didn’t happen. There has also been some gossip about Rossi cutting Zarco off, but I don’t think so. I respect Vale and I can’t think of him that way. I also know that even though he is really important for Yamaha, in the end, it will always be the Japanese who have the final word. So nobody cut me off, but Yamaha decided to work mainly with Vale and Viñales and to focus on their shared future.
Apart from an official bike, what else do you think is needed to defeat Marc Marquez?
Apart from an official bike, you need the ability to ride all bikes if you wish to defeat Marquez. You need your bike to be at its best and you need to be able to take advantage of any opportunity, always trying to improve. He never stops improving: all riders do, but he does it better and faster. I’m trying to go down the same road, and I’m positive that at some point I’ll find the right riding style to fight him during a race but also to win the MotoGP World Championship. That’s my future dream.
How will you celebrate your first victory in MotoGP?
I’ll jump over. That’s the way I have always celebrated a victory and I want to do the same for MotoGP. I thought I would have done that in front of my French fans, but it won’t hurt to do it in front a different audience.