LCR Honda stand-in rider Johann Zarco believes a ‘huge step’ was made with the 2018 RC213V in yesterday’s Sepang MotoGP as he was able to make a genuine top-eight challenge which was thwarted by the errant Joan Mir.
Zarco ran inside the top ten for the entire race until a pass from Mir ended with the Frenchman in the gravel on lap 17 but he had had poleman and compatriot Fabio Quartararo in his sights for eighth as he battled with Jack Miller’ Ducati.
“A huge step done. I’m back on the reality of top riding, and I like this. The race was good, and I was also - not controlling the pace, because we are all at the limit, also with the heat we feel physically that it’s not easy - but I was with the good pace and I was happy about this,” said Zarco, speaking at the track.
“I saw Fabio ahead, and this was a good motivation between French riders, to be close to him. And I wanted to fight with him, why not? But I lost a little bit of time behind Jack, while when Fabio overtook him, he went away immediately and almost caught Morbidelli.
Maybe I had this capacity, but again, I had to overtake Jack. I did it a few times but then he would go inside again, he was strong on braking. We were losing time and three laps to the end, the guys behind had closed in on us.
“I tried to overtake Jack again, to pass him and go away, so I can save this eighth position, that would be very correct. But Joan came even more inside and a bit too fast and he totally came across in front of the handlebar. He touched me quite strongly, and I could not do anything.”
Zarco finished second Honda as Cal Crutchlow crashed out and Jorge Lorenzo was once again woeful, crossing the line more than half a minute behind winner Maverick Vinales.