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MotoGP, Zarco: If Rossi says I'm a title contender, I believe it

Johann is in his second season with team Tech3: "With the 2017 M1 2017, my primary objective is to beat the factory Yamahas"

MotoGP: Zarco: If Rossi says I'm a title contender, I believe it

Frenchman Johann Zarco arrived in Sepang well aware that in his second year in the Top Class, all of his rivals and critics will have their eyes on him. This is why he trained intensely over the winter break:I had a good winter – Johann reveals – Before Christmas, I participated in the Superprestige race in Barcelona. That was a difficult but interesting experience that let me train with riders from various categories. The race put me to the test in terms of riding and in terms of handling the pressure.”

It required good reflexes of the two-time Middle Class world champion:Yes, and in early January I began to train with the Supermotard on a short and technical go-kart track. With the Michelin slicks it felt like riding a MotoGP bike in terms of sensations and the reaction of the bike, especially in acceleration.”

How do you feel now?

I arrived here in Malaysia ready for battle. I trained as I always have, trying to stay away from all the comments and criticism I heard last year about the bike that I would be riding this season. In the November tests, the feeling with the M1 was excellent. My pre-season target is to reacquire the same confidence I had with the Yamaha in the fall tests in November. I want to get on the bike and repeat the same comments, keeping my mind free of any other pointless clutter.”

In the meantime, your teammate has thrown in the towel…

“I hope that Jonas recovers soon, not only as a rider, but as a person. We did not lose Folger. I hope that he will be able to return soon and we are all optimistic about his full recovery.”

Do you feel the pressure a lot after such a great 2017?

No, I don’t feel any greater pressure. I am happy that people wait for me to come out. After finishing races in the top positions last season, it makes me really want to start 2018 with the same pace as 2017. If I am able to be just as fast, it will mean that I can battle for the win and it would be fantastic for the entire championship season.”

Rossi included you on a very short list of riders who can win races and the title… even with the 2017 bike…

Fantastic! That means that the 2017 M1 works well and is fast. Last year, we on team Tech3 worked hard to guarantee high performance in the final stages of the races, not just to achieve a single fast lap. If Valentino says this, that makes me happy because he is still my hero. If I think about the two titles I won in Moto2, I believe and I tell myself ‘I’m in my second year in MotoGP, why shouldn’t I be able to do it?’.”

Viñales has signed with the factory team and Valentino is about to. And you?

Last year, I said that my goal was to ride a factory bike, which is important for a rider who wants to win a Championship Title. Any support that comes from the factory team will be a step higher. I hope that we achieve results worthy of the factory team’s attention. My target is to beat – first and foremost – the other Yamahas. I have been talking with my manager and my coach. When we are on the track, we think about my feeling with the bike and the work that needs to be done. I leave all the rest and the negotiations to them. We’ll decide together and I’ll talk about my future later.”

Translated by Jonathan Blosser

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