MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco said he achieved his target of finishing within one second of the fastest time during his debut on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha in the Valencia test.
Zarco, who clinched his second Moto2 crown this season, impressed along with team-mate Jonas Folger on the satellite machines, lapping in 1m 31.015s as he finished in 13th on Wednesday, 1.040s behind Maverick Vinales on the factory Movistar Yamaha.
The French rider used the opening day of the test to get a feel for the Michelin tyres before mounting a charge on day two and Zarco was satisfied with how he met the challenge.
“I'm more happy than yesterday because I could have the bike under control and in the end, the lap time is very good. Even with the used tyre, I was just losing a few tenths and that's why all of today has been positive,” he said.
“I was happy that [after] changing little things on the bike, I could ride the Yamaha bike, I could ride the bike better and also relax myself, because to be relaxed is also very important. In the end, we understood many things and I understood good things for the next test with Yamaha.
“I didn't want to be more than one second [adrift], and I think it is very positive. There were many, many things new on Thursday and overall the tyres,” he added.
“All my laps [throughout career] I was riding on Dunlop tyres and the character of Michelin tyres is different. It was necessary to keep pushing but on the second day, I was ready to use more the tyres and it helped me to ride the bike.”
Zarco said he was also able to experiment with the electronics settings more on the second day of the test after dipping into the 1'35 bracket at the Spanish circuit.
“We were working on the balance of the bike, changing a bit the suspension so I can have a better feeling. There were many changes with the bike to give me a better feeling,” he said.
“When we touched the '31.5 we realised that now we can try a few things on the electronics because now I will feel it. With traction control, we tried to understand different mapping. After my lap in '31.5, I started with a used tyre doing ten laps or 12 laps I could change the mapping and feel it,” he added. “It was not necessary to change the suspension because with just electronics, you can change it and have less movement and more control.”
Looking ahead, the double Moto2 champion says he is relishing the chance to test at a different circuit after fives days of riding at Valencia, where the final round of the Moto2 World Championship was followed by the two-day MotoGP test.
“The target is to keep riding in a good pace, not far from the best lap time. We need to analyse because Valencia is a short track for MotoGP and it will be very good to change the circuit,” Zarco said.
“It will be good for the mind to change the track that is still now just after the Moto2 season. I will have new reference and the target is to be as close as possible to the fast guys. I had a good reference with [Jorge] Lorenzo today. With Lorenzo he has a smooth style and coming from Moto2, it is the smooth style that is necessary to learn.
“With Valentino [Rossi], I just saw him one time and I was pushing, then I slowed down thinking he would be here. But he was braking and was very far, but I still have this dream to follow him, but not in this test!”
Zarco confirmed that he was using the same Yamaha M1 raced by Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro this season as opposed to the Movistar Yamaha team's 2016 machines ridden by Rossi and Lorenzo.
“We are using the bike that Tech 3 were using but this is similar than the Movistar one [from this season],” he said. “The bike is good like this and we could use the reference from last Sunday but today we could use the reference of Vinales with the wings from the first test day, so this was a better reference for us.”