MotoGP

Vinales: Johann Zarco would try beat our laps as Yamaha MotoGP tester

Johann Zarco would try to beat Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi's lap times if he took up a Yamaha MotoGP test rider role, according to the Spaniard

Maverick Vinales says he’d expect Johann Zarco to prove himself to Yamaha if he was land the test rider role he has been linked with by attempting to beat his and Valentino Rossi’s lap times. 

The Frenchman is currently out-of-work after his disastrous stint with the KTM factory team was brought to an abrupt conclusion only nine months into what was originally intended to be a two-year deal.

With Zarco’s premature KTM exit putting him out-of-sync in terms of contracts renewals, he faces a year on the racing sidelines but is expected to be in demand with regards to testing duties instead, with Yamaha favourite to land his signature.

Interestingly though, Yamaha MotoGP racer Vinales believes Zarco will find it difficult to focus purely on testing duties and suggests he may not be best suited to the development task in hand, even if he says this is because he should really be on the grid racing instead. 

"Johann is a great rider who should not have to be testing, he should be racing!" the Spaniard told sister publication Crash.net."For sure he would push the bike at the maximum and try to beat us on the lap times.

"That's a really important point because it's not the same when you test something at +1-1.5s [per lap] compared to when you are on a good rhythm. So, we'll see if Johann can bring this momentum and see what he can do. But it's very difficult to give an opinion because I don’t know [if he will get the testing role].

For now, Zarco remains under KTM contract until he end of the 2019 MotoGP season but the manufacturer says he can be released early for the right deal.

Could Johann Zarco cope with a MotoGP test role?

Prior to his KTM fallout,  Zarco – a double Moto2 World Champion - competed with the satellite Tech 3 Racing outfit on Yamaha machinery in 2017 and 2018. 

During that time, he notched up six podiums and three pole positions during two eye-catching seasons that saw him repeatedly take the fight to Vinales and Valentino Rossi.

It is for this reason that Vinales questions whether Zarco would essentially be able to help himself when it comes to working for the team rather than using it as an opportunity to show what he can do on the same machinery.

That’s not to say there is necessarily a fear from Vinales or Rossi that Zarco is in line to replace them, not least because Fabio Quartararo is already regarded as ‘next in line’ to a factory team seat instead. 

However, Franco Morbidelli’s place does look under threat from 2021, the Italian – though showing consistently well this year and ranked as fourth best independent – completely outshone by his rookie team-mate.

Zarco, meanwhile, has proven form on the M1 – a bike that according to Rossi hasn’t changed much in these recent years – making him an attractive option for the manufacturer. 

With Suzuki and Honda already erring towards a European test team with Sylvain Guintoli and Stefan Bradl respectively, Yamaha has followed suit with some outings for Jonas Folger but there remains doubt over the German’s fitness, potentially opening the door for his former Tech 3 team-mate Zarco.

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