Johann Zarco reveals all to MCN
Yamaha super-rookie Johann Zarco is making waves in Motogp but he’s fighting big battles away a from the track, too
For every Marquez, who won his second ever Motogp race or Lorenzo who claimed pole first time out, there are world champions like Tito Rabat or Pol Espargaró who’ve stepped up but failed to make a splash.
That’s why the arrival of Frenchman Johann Zarco in 2017 has cast so many ripples through the championship, as the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider sets out to do what he does best – and damn anybody who gets in his way.
Leading his opening race in the premier class in Qatar before crashing out, clashing with Valentino Rossi three races in at the American Grand Prix, and taking his first podium in front of 100,000 home fans at Le Mans, it’s safe to say that the 26-year-old has made a big impression.
However, coming into the championship with no pressure on his shoulders and with two years to learn the class before the chance of a factory bike, Zarco is in a good position when it comes to learning his trade with the Tech 3 squad.
“This year I have time to learn about the bike, about how to ride, and about myself, as well. I’m using all the experience of my career to grow up and to always be better and better.
“There is less pressure this year than when I was in Moto2. I have to do the job, I have to remain focused, but my position as an outsider means that there is less expectation than when I was preparing for the second Moto2 title. That means that I can enjoy my time with the team and learn.
“I can take more risks this year, like I did in Qatar. It was a shame that I crashed, but making mistakes like that is part of the learning process. And maybe it’s better to make them now than when I am fighting for a championship. “My target is to win in Motogp. I want to win, I want to fight for the title, but I need to
take the time that I need to do that. At the moment, everything is going well – I just need to push at every race and always think that I can take the podium. I must keep my feet on the ground, but keep pushing for that podium.”
Who needs friends?
But while taking risks on the track might not be winning him any friends, Zarco hasn’t exactly been wooing his rivals off the track either. A combination of fiery temperament and an attitude that says he doesn’t care who he offends means that he’s also been starting scraps in the regular Friday night safety commission meetings where he advocates for the riders in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.
He said: “The Motogp guys sometimes forget that, although we are important because we are riding the fastest bikes in the paddock, the guys in Moto2 and Moto3 are also human! When you get more money and a better life, it makes you forget many things about the people below you!”
Flying the flag for Moto2
And that attitude fits with Zarco’s whole outlook on Motogp’s feeder classes, as he embarks upon a mission to singlehandedly repair the reputation of the middleweight series.
For many fans, Moto2 and Moto3 lack
‘It was a shame I crashed, but making mistakes is part of learning’ JOHANN ZARCO
the kudos of the blue ribbon class but the double world champion says that it’s part of his job to show what Moto2 riders are capable of as he takes on the best in the world.
He said: “After Qatar I could see that I’d suddenly become more famous than before – people were talking about me more after six laps in Motogp than they did after my two world titles in Moto2. It’s always good to be noticed and we must take it as a positive and so I thank them for seeing it and thinking I am a good rider, but also I say don’t forget the small categories because they are so important.
“The people who know these categories are the riders, because we are coming from there and we are looking at the guys in those categories because we know what they do and what they can become. The world doesn’t give the other classes enough recognition so I’ll try to use this Motogp status to make the people look at the smaller categories.
“This will change, I think. Let’s see how Rins can progress during the season, but Jonas [team-mate Folger who has also scored a rookie podium] and I can prove by ourselves that coming from Moto2 we are riders with a good attitude and we just want to learn and to push. Of course Tito made the move from Moto2 before us but he had difficulty adapting so it didn’t work out so well for the reputation of the series.
“The only Moto2 guy who has made an instant impact was Marquez, but people always say ‘oh he’s good because he’s Marquez’ and not because he came from Moto2. But Jonas and I will show that Moto2 is a strong class and it will get some attention.”
Only Rossi stopped Zarco taking a podium at Catalunya Even Rossi fans doff their caps to newboy Zarco
What better place for Zarco to take his debut podium than his home round?