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Ahead of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) spoke to the media about the news that Johann Zarco will be jumping on board Takaaki Nakagami’s LCR Honda Idemitsu machine in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia.
Nakagami chats about his injury, the surgery and Zarco
Can you comment on Zarco joining LCR Honda for the final three rounds of the season?
“There was a position available in LCR, and Zarco is a free rider that wants to race, to compete, so it’s a logical move that Honda have made. So it’s an issue that concerns Honda, Cecchinello’s team, not mine.”
Does this put pressure on you?
Is it a challenge for you?
“Nakagami and Cal have finished ahead of me in nearly all the races… He (Zarco) will ride a different bike, one that – in theory – is worse, but it could be an easier bike. So, surely it won’t be easy for him, but because of his motivation and eagerness, he’ll achieve what he can. Because after not having been able to ride for 3 or 4 races, he’ll be very keen to demonstrate what he can do and I’ll sure he’ll do well.”
What advice would you give to Zarco about the bike?
“Zarco is a very fast rider and… nobody knows how he’s going to do but there are a few… there fast riders in all of MotoGP, almost the whole grid is quick in MotoGP, but especially Zarco has shown that he can do poles and… he’s not won a race yet but can fight for victories. If he feels good on the bike and he likes it, he’ll go really fast.
“In the end we’re all human and have emotions. Evidently when you’re 3 or 4 races – for one reason or another, in the case of Zarco because he decided not to continue with KTM – and you’re at home, you are really keen. But it’s a natural reaction. Like when you’ve not won a race for a long time, and suddenly you win a race. You always want to live these emotions to the maximum. When you win 5 races in a row it’s clear that the emotions in the fifth aren’t the same as the first. But anyway, Zarco has 4 GPs without racing, or even five, so he’ll start even more excited than those of us who are continuously here in the championship.”
Pre-GP Press Conference: Japan GP
2019 World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also discussed Zarco’s opportunity onboard a 2018 Honda machine ahead of the weekend’s action. “Maybe it’s true that in some aspects the 2018 engine was a little bit easier, but it’s also true that was 2 or 3 tenths slower. Then you need to decide if you prefer to ride it easier or go faster.
“You need to choose and it’s not a problem to me to ride a more difficult bike if it’s faster. You need to adapt and find the way to do it, but I’m the first who wants to maintain the power but at the same time have more traction, try to have a softer engine, that’s the same that all Honda riders are saying. But well, the Honda engine has been the same since I arrived in 2013, and it’s not going to be changed now”.
Lorenzo will be aiming to continue his improvements on board his 2019 Repsol Honda machine, as the five-time World Champion continues to recover from his injuries sustained earlier in the season. Find out how the Spaniard gets on in FP1, which kicks off at the slightly later time of 10:50 LT (GMT+9) on Friday.