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Poncharal on Zarco’s form: “His targets were higher”

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss on his star rider and a tougher run of form of late

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team Principal Herve Poncharal spoke to pitlane reporter Simon Crafar during FP3 at the Motul TT Assen, discussing the recent run of form for 2017 Rookie of the Year Johann Zarco. Putting to bed any rumours of background drama or distractions, the Frenchman talked through the situation at length.

“I’d like to explain it and understand it,” begins Poncharal. “There’s a fragile balance that makes a rider, his team and the bike feel good, where the rider can take the maximum out of the package. Earlier in the season everything seemed easy; easier than now and sometimes easier than the factory guys. But since the crash in Le Mans things have been more difficult.”

Zarco, who took pole at his home Grand Prix at Le Mans, then crashed out of the race. But, says Poncharal, it’s not all that new a situation – and as the season goes on, the development freeze for the Independent Teams is felt more and more.

“If you look at what happened in 2017 it was almost identical. Until Le Mans everything was good and easy, but from Mugello it started to be a bit more difficult. We have almost a 100% replica of what happened in 2017, but some people; the rider, the team, the fans could ask what’s going on or be a bit disappointed when you look back at the start of the season, but on a satellite bike with no evolution he’s fourth in the Championship. Yesterday although he crashed and things weren’t at 100% he was in the top ten…it’s not ideal but there’s no fire in the house at the moment or anything. Every factory has small evolutions, they’re tiny pluses but it’s difficult to cope…our bike is frozen from Qatar to Valencia. That’s not an excuse, it’s just how it is. And that’s in the rider’s brain too. Last year he didn’t worry so much because he was a rookie but this year, being second in the Championship after Jerez, his target and ambition was higher. For sure he’s going through…well, I don’t want to say a tough time, but he’s learning.”