Johann Zarco: Thursday improvement 'bigger than expected'

KTM's Johann Zarco says the improvement he made in laptime and overall feeling on the RC16 during Thursday's Sepang pre-season test was “bigger” than he expected. 

Zarco's KTM debut has been a tough affair. He was over two seconds off the pace in November's tests, and was 10 places adrift of team-mate Pol Espargaro in 20th after Wednesday's running in Malaysia. 

The double Moto2 champion improved his laptime by half a second to a 1:59.973s on Thursday, putting him 11th, and said breaching the 2:00s “wall” have him “a smile”.

“From the morning I could start quite fast, and I did a bigger improvement than what I expected,” said Zarco, who was just 1.1s off the pace.

“And then in warmer conditions we were working on both used tyres, and trying to find things we want to work. 

“I would say in the afternoon it was not easy to make clear comments, but it's something I feel I have to work on the bike and get used to some set-up we did. 

“Then on the last set of the new tyres we could use in the last 10 minutes was another step to go under 2:00s. 

“So it's just giving me the smile. It's kind of like a wall, this 2:00s, and when you are a little bit under it gives you happiness.”

Zarco admits he is still “fighting” the KTM turning into the corners, but feels he has improved his feeling on corner entry and in the middle of the turns. 

“It's really a better improvement than what I expect, we will keep pushing this way and see tomorrow if we can improve and also how I can manage the bike over many laps. 

“The entry of the corner was my weak point, and now since we've been in Malaysia I could improve this feeling. 

“I'm still fighting into the corner to make the bike turn, and I think we also got a better feeling inside the corner. And it really helped me to make a step with the new tyre.”