There was great expectation surrounding Johann Zarco at Valencia. The Frenchman proved to be one of the 2017 season's revelations and so people were keen to see how competitive he could be with the 2017 version of the M1. Once again, he has impressed, setting the second fastest time of the day behind Vinales and in front of a certain Valentino Rossi.
“I'm not surprised about this result – starts Johann – I'm excited about the confidence I have with the new bike. i think the best thing is to work step by step, as we did today”.
He then goes into more detail about the bike.
“The 2017 M1 impressed me in terms of braking– he analyses – I was able to have great stability, which meant I immediately felt comfortable. Also, this bike is less demanding than the 2016 bike, I'm saving about 30% of my strength”.
The Frenchman is a little disappointed to have just missed out on setting the quickest time of the day.
“In the final stages I went out on new tyres. I had a good impression, though I wasn't able to duck under 1’29”. I'll try again tomorrow”.
Zarco's performance risks being an alarm bell for Rossi and Vinales, though he doesn't agree.
“I don't think my performance is a problem – comments the Frenchman - actually, I think it's a positive for everyone, in that I can help the team”.
back to the matter of tyres, an area in which the M1 seems to suffer in the final part of the race.
“I'll focus on that aspect tomorrow. I'll try to put together more than 20 laps and then we'll see what the tyre consumption is like. Right no, I can't say, perhaps the same old problems will emerge. Compared to last year's first test, I definitely feel less tired anyway".
Lastly there's mention of the frame, the 2017 M1's Achilles heel.
“I hear this more from the media– jokes Johann – perhaps there were some problems towards the end of the championship but during the season Maverick and Valentino made some great races. Rossi was also very fast at Aragon when he returned from injury. If the bike wasn't up to the task, it was have been hard for him to be that competitive”.