Zarco 'understands' KTM criticism

'I was a bit on fire after the crash and I didn't say nice things about the bike... I really hope this weekend will be a good answer to everything in the media last week' - Johann Zarco, French MotoGP.
Zarco 'understands' KTM criticism

Johann Zarco says he 'understands' recent criticism from KTM CEO Stefan Pierer.

At Jerez, Zarco was reportedly overheard by TV microphones telling the team of a 'shit' chassis and power delivery when he returned to the pits after a fall in FP1.

That appeared to prompt a robust response from Pierer via a subsequent interview with Speedweek, where he labelled the team's new star signing as "a big disappointment".

"I saw the comments from Stefan Pierer when I was flying back from Jerez," Zarco said at Le Mans on Thursday. "I could not speak straight away with him, but anyway I spoke to Pit Beirer and I understood why he said all of that.

"I was a bit on fire on Friday after the crash and I didn't say nice things about the bike I must develop, and I must accept the performance at the moment. I kind of lost some control in that moment.

"So when the media came to him and tried to ‘pick’ him about that, because this is his money that we put in this project, he could only answer in that way. You also know how Stefan is, a strong character, so if you 'pick' him, he answers you.

"We know we have to be patient and improve the project, and we know it's going to take time, but sometimes in the [heat of the] moment we can lose a little bit of control.

"So I wasn't sad after these comments [from Pierer] because I understood.

"Now things are going much better and I really hope and cross my fingers that this weekend will be a good answer to everything we could read in the media last week."

Zarco - whose silky-smooth style on the Tech3 Yamaha produced six podiums, four poles and sixth in the world championship - is yet to better 13th place during his opening races as a factory KTM rider.

Team-mate Pol Espargaro has scored three-times as many points as the Frenchman, who is currently tied on points with rookie Tech3 KTM rider Miguel Oliveira for 18th in the world championship.

"Pol is in a good mood, healthy and doing a good job. That is very positive," Pierer said of the Spaniard during the same interview.

Espargaro claimed the RC16's first rostrum in the wet Valencia 2018 race and took the bike's best dry result with eighth in Austin this year.

"I am also very pleased with newcomer Miguel Oliveira, who quickly got on with the KTM in the MotoGP class. That's why we extended his contract right away," Pierer added.

Zarco has been adamant it would be a mistake to abandon the riding style that brought such spectacular success at Yamaha and believes helping make the RC16 more rider-friendly will mean it is more competitive for everyone.

Pierer saw the situation slightly differently, pointing out it is the more aggressive V4 powered machines that have won all but two races since Assen 2017.

"There are two concepts. Honda, Ducati and KTM with the V4 engine, which Aprilia also has. For these bikes you need a certain, brave, riding style… not like the Yamaha.

"Yamaha has the inline engine concept, like Suzuki. With these a youngster can go straight up front - for example, Quartararo and Rins.

"But the victories are mostly by the V4 machines."

Nonetheless, Pierer conceded KTM - which has slipped behind Aprilia for sixth and last in the constructors' championship - must also improve.

"We are in the third year. We still have to bring down 4 to 5kg of weight. The electronics remain an issue. And we need to be even faster and more effective at home in the development department to better support the racing team.

"We will do everything we can to bring [Zarco] forward this year. New material has already been made to Zarco's wishes. Pit Beirer has now also organised Jean-Michel Bayle as a supervisor."