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After the news broke that Johann Zarco will be replacing Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda Idemitsu bike for the final three races of 2019, French sports newspaper L’Equipe spoke to the Frenchman about his expectations, what it could mean for the future and more.
Would you have imagined, one month ago, to finish this season riding a Honda?
“Clearly no! When KTM told me that Kallio was going to replace me from the Aragon GP, I thought I’ve lost the last six races. At the time, it was very difficult, even if keeping away allowed me to focus on my future with a free spirit. Finally, I would have missed only three Grands Prix this year (Aragon, Thailand and Japan).”
Nakagami chats about his injury, the surgery and Zarco
Even though Marquez dominates the Championship on this bike, the Honda doesn’t have the reputation of being an ‘easy bike’. Lorenzo, Crutchlow and even Nakagami know it. You’re not worried this replacement could be like a poisoned chalice?
“No, I don’t think so. They didn’t call to win the last races. They’ve offered me this bike because I’m available. From my side, I just hope to find good feelings. And if I can’t make use of this material they will provide me, it will mean I don’t have my place in MotoGP™. They give me three races, they give me a chance and I want to live it at the maximum. I took a risk leaving KTM, I can’t refuse now as they have throw me a lifeline. I know there is something to seek, I need to be up to it.”
Did they suggest there might be an opportunity in Honda next year if Lorenzo ends his career?
“No, they told me to make no illusion. I’m fully aware of the reality, even if we can think these three races will also be a test. I’m already very happy that I have been given this chance. I can’t wait to be in Australia.”
Australia won’t be an easy Grand Prix for a first contact with the RC213V, even if you’ve shined there in the past. What will your goals be?
“Do a good job, show a positive attitude. I’ll go full gas, because in MotoGP™ you can’t do things by half, especially on a circuit like Phillip Island. It will be necessary to be well concentrated and to try to make the most of that bike I will discover.”
By accepting Honda's offer, you’re not worried about the fact that the door of Yamaha - who were offering you a seat as a test rider for next year - has closed?
“It has clearly closed. Honda and Yamaha are two big rivals. I talked to each other and made a choice, with full knowledge of the facts. I opted for the competition. It's up to me to be up to it.”
You’re not worried about the pressure, inherent in your choice, can be counterproductive?
“I’m not afraid, it's good adrenaline.”
11 months ago