Johann Zarco said that after qualifying on the front row of the grid in Motegi, he has a chance to claim his first ever MotoGP win.
After seemingly falling off the face of the earth since his disastrous home Grand Prix in Le Mans, Zarco came back to form at the circuit he claimed his first Grand Prix win at back in 2011 when he was in 125’s.
After finding his form, the Frenchman qualified in the middle of the front row, just 0.068 seconds behind pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso. That being said, Zarco admitted he doesn’t expect to be challenging for the win, but starting from the front row means you at least have a chance.
“I don’t close that door for the victory and you never know what might happen,” said Zarco, who is moving to the Red Bull KTM factory team next year.
“An opportunity for tomorrow is they’re fighting for the title and I think Marc [Marquez], like in Valencia, he can be very strong but maybe he might think a little more this time. When you are on the track, I wont say you can feel it, but you can sense there is something to catch.
“I will see, being in second place means I have a chance to see what happens in the race and see if I have a chance.”
After struggling for so many races, Zarco, much like the factory Yamaha’s, benefitted from the conditions in Buriram last time out to finish in fifth place. The factory duo struggled in qualifying and will both start tomorrows race from the third row. When asked what was different for him, Zarco said: “From FP1 I had a pretty good pace on a track that I like. When you start well in the weekend you can then work better. If you do something wrong you can immediately come back on something good and this is useful to build up everything.
“Then in qualifying with the second tyre I had a pretty good feeling with the first lap in the 44.8, I thought that’s already good then on the last lap I tried to do it but this last sector it’s quite difficult. I don’t know if it’s about braking, but this last chicane I got some problems and then in the last lap I did a little mistake.
“I cannot be disappointed to miss the pole position because after many races struggling it’s just so much pleasure to be in second place and I wish good things for the Sunday.”
Despite his pragmatic approach, Zarco did admit that he thinks his best tactic of success in the race will be to lead early, knowing that both pole sitter Dovizioso and World Champion elect Marquez will be there too.
“I didn’t have a great FP4 but I think I know why and I see immediately if I can get a few tenths better I can think about the podium,” he said.
“We know Marc will be there. Marc and Dovi, they are the two riders who are strongest to manage all race. I think starting from second place I need to take this opportunity to lead the race and it’s going to be the best chance for me to do a great race.”