MotoGP

'Zarco-style' can work at KTM

New factory KTM MotoGP rider Johann Zarco won't try to copy Pol Espargaro's aggressive riding style, making progress with feeling and consistency on RC16.
'Zarco-style' can work at KTM

Johann Zarco is confident he won’t need to scrap his smooth riding style as he switches from Yamaha to KTM in MotoGP.

The Frenchman, who took his sixth and final Tech3 podium at the penultimate round in Malaysia, was only 21st and 19th fastest respectively during official post-season tests at Valencia and Jerez for Red Bull KTM.

The RC16 has often looked a wild machine in the hands of Pol Espargaro, but Zarco insists he will not need to copy Espargaro's aggressive technique and is seeing progress with the Austrian machine.

"I must find my base [set-up], because I will not ride like Pol. I can find some ideas and sometimes try things like he is doing, but I’m not able to copy him," Zarco explained at the Jerez test.

"I know that my smooth style is great because, as you could see on the last exit, it was so consistent. This is really the Zarco-style and, when I have that feeling, I can be very consistent."

The Frenchman was referring to his final Jerez laps, when he set his best time of the test during a five-lap run that varied by only 0.316s.

"Although on the last run I could only improve my best lap by one tenth, I was feeling better on the bike and very constant," he said.

"So even when we don't improve in speed, we improve the consistency. This means we are growing up, but it's taking time."

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Another reason for optimism is that Zarco is able to get up to speed sooner.

"It's about finding my base set-up, to quickly be into the good lap times," he said.

"We are still working on it - and we are not working to be the fastest rider. But the base is getting better and better, because every time I go out, immediately the lap time is there and I can repeat it, while still being relaxed on the bike.

"It means this is the direction to go in."

The issue now is that Zarco needs to lower his pace by around one-second, from a best of 1m 39.8s at Jerez.

"Every time we are improving the lap time and when it will be consistently in the ’38 here, then it will be very interesting…"

In order to make that step, Zarco needs better cornering performance.

"I would say the biggest point to improve is the turning. It is maybe a place we are struggling for the style I try to use," he said.

"But it was great to be at Jerez with fast and slow corners, not like in Valencia, and this was good information about how I can control the bike."

Espargaro, who took the RC16's first podium in the wet Valencia race, was again the fastest KTM at Jerez, 0.720s ahead of Zarco in 17th overall.

The new Tech3 KTMs were 23rd and 25th in the hands of Zarco's former team-mate Hafizh Syahrin and rookie Miguel Oliveira.

KTM test riders Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio are expected to return to Jerez later this month to help develop the 2019 RC16 prior to the next outing by the race riders, at Sepang, in February.

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