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Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ended his 2018 on a high after he claimed Top Independent Team rider for the second year running, fending off the threat from Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci in the final race of the season in Valencia.
Petrucci is known for being a very capable rider in the wet and having qualified in P4 – with Zarco P11 – it looked like the Frenchman could have a tall order on his hands if we were to take the accolade. Five points was the gap between the duo heading into the finale – the advantage Zarco’s – and it would be he who prevailed, Petrucci crashing out of contention before the red flags came out.
Mission accomplished then for the double Moto2™ World Champion in a super difficult race, on what was also his final appearance for Tech 3 and Yamaha: “I’m happy and relaxed. Petrucci was strong in the wet all weekend, so I was expecting a fight at the start of the race,” reflected the Yamaha rider. “When we had to start again the rain was coming more and more. Even the good riders in the crazy conditions… didn’t even make mistakes, you go, you aquaplane, you go on someplace where there’s too much water that you hadn’t seen and you crash.
The future? The future is now!
“So, I was just happy to stay on my wheels. I struggled a bit. The others were faster than me. I was still best Independent rider but I wanted to finish the race. I could still play for the top five in the Championship but Rins did a great job on dry and wet all weekend. I feel happy. My main target was to be first independent rider and I did it, so that gives me a great feeling after a difficult but good season.”
Now, a new challenge awaits. Zarco jumps on a KTM RC16 machine for the first time at the Official Valencia Test and after now-teammate Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) claimed the Austrian factory’s maiden MotoGP™ podium, Zarco is intrigued about what position he can challenge for in 2019.
“It will be tough, I don’t know what position I can play for next year. I’ll have a better idea, maybe, when I jump on the bike and see the KTM for the first laps,” commented Zarco, who will be on track on Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st to in KTM colours – live on motogp.com. He continued: “I’ll take it easy. Pol did a nice podium today, he was fast in both races. The bike is improving well and it’s a great time for me to go there. They still have to improve; I still have to improve, so we’re going in the same way and hoping for good things.”
2018 Valencia Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race