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MotoGP, Johann Zarco: “Returning to Phillip Island was shocking for some riders”

The French rider dominated the first day of free practice by reaching the top of the standings in both sessions. “Being fast on this track is an indescribable feeling, but the strong wind can turn it into a real nightmare.”

MotoGP: Johann Zarco: “Returning to Phillip Island was shocking for some riders”

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The first day of free practice was an almost dry one for the riders on the Australian circuit, except for some areas of wet asphalt in the morning that forced them to have a more cautious approach. The strong wind, which is typical for this circuit, might have helped Johann Zarco reach a best time, since he ended both sessions at the top of the standings with a best lap of 1’29”475. A great start of the weekend for the Pramac rider, before the Ducatis on Friday at the Philipp Island circuit.

The first free practice session wasn’t easy. With the track that was wet in some areas, I had to adapt quickly and be fast at the same time,” the French rider explained. “It was very windy, and I think that returning to this circuit and seeing how the corners were was shocking for some riders.”

It must have definitely been a real shock for some riders, since the MotoGP hasn’t been here since 2019. Riders with more experience were reward during this first free practice, except for Bezzecchi’s surprising second best time in the combinations, which demonstrates how the “Rookie of the Year” title is fully within the young Italian rider’s reach.

I didn’t do many laps in the morning,”  Johann continued. “I finished a couple of fast laps and then worked on my confidence with the bike, looking for reference points on the track. Instead, I worked really well with the team in the FP2. I had the opportunity to work on my race pace and also improve my flying lap with a soft on the rear. Being fast on this circuit is an incredible feeling, but there was a lot of wind, and that can turn into a nightmare for some. When you can do it, it’s great. But if you suffer a little, it can be a nightmare. So, right now, I’m happy to be on the positive side.

You were two seconds away from the track record in the FP1. How do you explain that?
The wet areas on the track certainly made me more cautious during the first session. Those are usually corners I face at 200km/h. But, on the wet asphalt, I slowed down to 170km/h, and this made a big difference. When the grip on the track improved in the afternoon, the times improved for all the riders.

What about the tires? Do you have any clear ideas yet?
The tires performed well. It was a compound with which we had already worked well in the past, and we already know what temperature to bring them to, in order to reach an excellent performance. Tomorrow we’ll have a softer one on the right side and, in the center, it would be impossible to do without it on this circuit. I think it’s good that Michelin brings these innovations. I don’t know, but I think Dunlop doesn’t have that, and that’s why I’m glad I'’m not racing in Australia in the Moto2 anymore,” Johann said laughing.

 

Translated by Leila Myftija

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