Zarco: flying Frenchman retains his form to take third

Top Yamaha and less than a tenth off the top after revealing his plans for 2019

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) wasn’t quite top Independent Team rider on Day 1 in Jerez, but he was very close to it – just 0.063 down on Friday’s fastest Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and third overall. That continues the two-time Moto2™ World Champion’s rich vein of form, and with half a second in his pocket ahead of the first Movistar Yamaha of Valentino Rossi, it’s more than just a solid start to the first European race of the season - especially with so much attention on the Frenchman after he announced his move to KTM on Thursday.

As expected, the P3 on the timesheets translated into a happy number 5 after Day 1 on track.

“I’m pretty happy to be competitive without having tested here,” says Zarco. “Working with the medium or soft tyre, the feeling was good. And every time we tried something on the bike we were improving, so that makes me happy.”

With the new track surface having been tested by many ahead of the event – including the Repsol Honda and Ducati Teams – that was a key factor coming in to the weekend. So the plan now? Keep working, in that oft-used mantra of riders.

“Now, we’ll keep working to feel comfortable and be able to play with the bike. I hope tomorrow with have good weather to keep improving, I want to be competitive and able to fight for the victory or the podium.”

After starting from the front row seven times in a row, need we ask about qualifying? “The first row is important, and pole would be even better!”

Qualifying begins from 14:10 (GMT +2) on Saturday – see if Zarco can do it again!