Zarco talks Jean-Michel Bayle recruitment

Former motocross star and 500cc pole sitter Jean-Michel Bayle will be working as Johann Zarco’s supervisor; “I need to control many details. It can be a guy that helps me to be like a boss,” says the double Moto2 world champion.
Zarco talks Jean-Michel Bayle recruitment

Johann Zarco has explained the reasoning behind the recruitment of former motocross world champion Jean-Michel Bayle, who will work as the Frenchman's supervisor this year, citing the need to “control the stress” he encounters over a race weekend.

It hasn’t been an easy start to life as a factory KTM rider for the 28-year old, who came home a disappointing 14th in Sunday’s race at Jerez. Bayle’s extensive experience as motocross champion, AMA motocross star, and 500cc factory rider makes him an ideal candidate to offer Zarco “a different approach” at races, he said.

Zarco has lacked such a figure since he definitively ended his working relationship with Laurent Fellon, a long-time manager and rider coach, and integral figure in his early racing career, at the end of last year.

“At the grand prix with this hard development that we are doing, the target is to control more the stress to keep the freedom in the mind that a top rider needs,” he said. Conversations with Bayle took place during the offseason, Zarco revealed, before reaching agreement prior to the Spanish Grand Prix.

“I spoke with him this winter a little bit but I was not ready,” Zarco told on Monday. “I spoke with him last week and finally it’s Pit that announced it even before me!

“That’s because Pit Beirer [KTM Motorsport Director] is really enthusiastic that this kind of guy with a lot of experience can give me this support after I split my business with my ex-coach.

“There were some decisions from myself, but about the performance and the technical side maybe I’m losing something. Having somebody different but with totally different experience and a different approach…

“At the grand prix with this hard development that we are doing, the target is to control more the stress to keep the freedom in the mind that a top rider needs.”

Will this be a relationship that exists during race weekends, or does Zarco plan to train with Bayle away from the track, too? “Can have training and advice on training. But just what he saw it looks like my method is not bad,” he said.

“Overall it’s just controlling this stress during a GP. The last two races – Argentina and Austin – were complicated because the feeling made me quite down. Jerez was a little bit better but also because from far I was sharing feelings with him.

“So ‘control the beast’ from an older guy with good advice, it’s more this support. Then there will be some technical things. Maybe he can see some things also from the track. We will see.

“It’s a full project. I’m almost responsible for bringing this project to the top. I need to control many details. It can be a guy that helps me to be like a boss.”

While Zarco has faced the stress of fighting for world championships in the past, leading a factory team and the expectations that come with it is still something of a new experience.

Has this been an added stress during the first four rounds of the year? “Yes,” he said. “Overall when you start from far. Two years ago they were explaining to me that they were ever more far.

“I’m quite respectful for what Pol [Espargaro] did. But now we are on a platform and to the top, we need to go to another. As I said today, it could be a good day to even enjoy more and find some little details in riding, but I couldn’t because I had to work on the bike.”

Zarco had another busy day on Monday as he tested an extensive list of new parts. At the close of the afternoon he was 16th fastest, 1.5s off the best lap of pace setter and French sensation Fabio Quartararo.

“I expect to have a good day because after a race it’s always good to be back on track and have a reference from all the weekend,” he said. “In the body the pace is ready. Just in three laps you are ready to start the work.

“Once again do things, come back, it’s not working, come back, always helping to give us confirmation at least to the technicians. About the riding it’s quite complicated to improve myself because we need to try these things and it doesn’t give me this freedom to really enjoy a full of tests – just improving myself.

“I think I could still improve with confidence. It’s up and down, what we are trying and not easy to enjoy this feeling.

“Anyway, many laps done and just for the body and mind it was the best thing I could have. For the team it’s the best information because even if it’s not the podium pace we have, it’s the best test KTM can have because we are in the closer pace than if we have a day chosen at random in Europe.

“I think what we wanted to and what the technicians wanted to give to me was that possibility to feel better in the fast corners and relax myself in the fast corners because I feel the bike can come easier and have easier control into the corner.

“We got something like that. Working on the front of the bike helped me to feel a little more freedom in the fast corner. From that we tried to make improvements with the rear. The front improved another time so we could work a bit more on the rear but there was nothing really we could find this afternoon.”