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Ajo Motorsport’s Johann Zarco chats to motogp.com after becoming the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion and his plans to defend his crown in 2016.
How did you adapt to the new bike so quickly at the beginning of the season?
“Maybe thanks to the experience, I had three years in Moto2 and at the end of 2014 I was good on the Sutter, but Kalex had some small advantage. Suddenly this advantage I feel it during the winter, and because the feeling was good I just had to work on my style.”
Did you have any doubts after your issues in the first race of the season in Qatar?
“The problem in Qatar was a mechanical problem and it can happen. We are doing a mechanical sport so really it was an unlucky moment, but no worry because it was a fantastic race, leading almost all the race. For my confidence it was good because the main thing is that I was leading and it means that I can be strong.”
Did you expect the run of results that followed?
“I wanted to get victories this year because in al of my career, I had only won once before - in Japan in 2011 - so I was dreaming about victories like the best riders. So I’m really happy I did it this year and it’s the target I wanted and I got it…so it’s perfect.”
You lifted the title after Rabat had to pull out through injury on Friday at the Japanese GP, would you have preferred to win the title in a different way?
“All the year I was very good; so I cannot have regrets for the title that I got on Friday because Tito couldn’t race. It was not difficult to realise, but it didn’t come yet and maybe after the victory I could celebrate it and think that I’m World Champion.”
Where did the backflip celebration come from?
“In the Rookies Cup I did only it one time…for my first victory I did the backflip; In 2007 I was still at the school with my friends and we were crazy about backflips so we wanted to do them everywhere and that’s why I wanted to do it also with the leather suit and next to my bike. And now this year I could do it in all the victories and now, yes, it’s like my signature, and it’s fantastic because the public loves it and even for me, the emotion when I can do it is so good.”
What do you think changed in 2015?
“What did I change? I don’t know…. but as I said thanks to the results and the experience I could say to myself “Don’t worry you are fast. If you have some problem don’t get stressed, keep focus because you can do it” and maybe this was the difference to trust and live like a champion.”
Do you think being back with Aki Ajo made a difference?
“In 2011 it was my first year with Aki and the first year I can be able to fight for the title. And again, four years after with Aki Ajo I’m fighting for the title and I catch the title. The connection with him, and also with my coach and all the team, is really good. Aki is able to manage very well the team, and it can be in Moto3 or Moto2, all the people have really high motivation for victory and that’s very important for a rider.”
How important is your personal manager Laurent Fellon?
“Laurent is important because thanks to him I learn to be a good rider. I got a good method for riding and I could grow up and now he’s always helping me. I had the passion before, but with him my passion with motorbike became even stronger. It’s a good way to say thank you, but I must continue because one year is not enough.”
What about next year, as we have seen Tito Rabat struggle to defend his title this season?
“I want just now to fight another time for the title next year. This is the challenge and Tito struggled this year but he never gives up and I must learn from this. Be careful, yes you are the champion but normally is even more difficult the year after. So I want to take this challenge because if I’m able to win again it means that I will be even more ready for the future in MotoGP.”
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