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Zarco: "I am not able to fight for the podium just yet."

Zarco: "I am not able to fight for the podium just yet."

After coming fourth in Estoril after a great race, JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, yet is hoping to fight with the front-runners again next week at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.

After taking the title of vice-125cc World Champion in 2011, during only his third season in Grand Prix racing, Johann Zarco could be the revelation of the Moto2™ class this year.

Racing for the JiR Moto2 team, the young Frenchman managed twelfth place in Qatar on his debut, and subsequently stood out in the rain-hit practices at Jerez, after which he took home his first top 10 finish.

Things got even better last weekend in Estoril at the Portuguese Grand Prix, where he qualified fourth and fourth place. motogp.com caught up with the French youngster to discuss his season so far.

How was your weekend in Portugal?

"The weekend started well as I was regularly among the top six. I think it was because of Jerez. I was first there in the rain (FP1, FP3, warm-up) and I was very motivated to stay among the top runners, even if it is more difficult in the dry. In Estoril I felt good on the bike, I was really very comfortable. We tried to run with minimal changes to the bike and once we posted some good times, we started to make small changes that allowed us to follow the faster riders. Following Márquez (Marc - CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) I did two very good laps in qualifying, and looking at our laps, we knew we had the opportunity to do something good."

And the start of the race ...

"I started fourth and I was expecting more trouble in the first two turns. At Jerez, I lost nine places at the start because I was too hesitant, but here it was much clearer on the outside. I took my own path and I think others were trapped inside. Aegerter (Dominic - Technomag-CIP) and Espargaró (Pol - Pons 40 HP Tuenti) passed in front of me but Aegerter and I were quickly able to join the group with Márquez, Espargaró and Lüthi (Thomas – Interwetten-Paddock). I was pretty comfortable and I even passed Espargaró and Márquez into second position. They then pushed as well and managed to up the tempo. At that time I dropped off, because I wasn’t able to follow them."

"With nine laps to go I had a big gap, almost six seconds Andrea Iannone (Speed Master), but he caught up quickly. So I tried to keep up a good pace, below the 1'42 mark, to ensure that I finished fourth."

In your opinion, what do you need to fight for the podium at the end of race?

"Experience. Being more comfortable on the bike, knowing your limits better. I watched Marquez where he was strongest, and I realized he was slipping more than I was when accelerating. He knows how far he can slide while with me, when I start to slide, I'm afraid to highside. Small details like that make the difference."

After Jerez, you said you wanted to be strong in all conditions, which you proved in Estoril. You have progressed very quickly this year - what are your next goals?

"I still don’t feel able to fight for the podium. The goal is to stay with that group. In Estoril, I was able to fight with them and it was bliss. For the next Grand Prix in France, I hope to be successful in the practices and qualifying, and then have the opportunity to follow this up in the race. If it happens again, we really can be satisfied."

The track at Le Mans has a special layout, which is problematic for many riders. What do you think?

"I think we should try to appreciate all the circuits and try and have fun every time. This is a track that does have some interesting features. There is the Dunlop chicane before the Chapel, and the S2, which is interesting because the first corner is a little raised and it can come at you very quickly. But whatever the circuit, always do your best and hope for a good result."

Tags:
Moto2, 2012, Johann Zarco, JIR Moto2

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