sat down for an exclusive interview with reigning Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco at the Motorcycle Live show at Birmingham's NEC.

The 25-year-old became the most-decorated French rider in Grand Prix motorcycle racing history with nine race victories, taking eight of them in 2015 on his way to the Mot2 world title with Ajo Motorsport.

Having claimed this year's intermediate class crown, Zarco is already concentrating on becoming the first rider to successful defend the Moto2 title after turning down options to move up to MotoGP next season.
Johann, you are the Moto2 world champion and have the highest Grand Prix wins of any French rider in history. How does that sound?

Johann Zarco:
I'm pretty happy, it is a nice target I reached this year. I have had many victories and this is what I am most happy about because there are so many Spanish and Italian riders taking 20, 30 victories. The French riders had stopped at seven victories and now I have nine and I just want more.

As a world champion I couldn't realise it until Valencia when we did all the ceremonies with the world champions I was thinking, yes, I am now part of them which is pretty nice but I have big work to make it true. I really think that if I dream too much or think it is done I will lose my position so I am keeping my feet on the ground.
What was the standout moment of the 2015 Moto2 season?

Johann Zarco:
I cannot say there is one moment more than the others because the victories were the things I wanted all my life and I got it this year. I really want to win again. The two victories in a row in Barcelona and Assen, they were really, really good but winning them all was very nice.
In a competitive field you consistently rose to the top, what factors do you put down to you finding that edge?

Johann Zarco:
My experience. We must remember at the end of 2014 when I was fighting for podiums and I was frequently on the first and second rows, as a rider I felt I was ready to fight for victories at that level. That is why in 2015 I wanted to keep this pace of how I finished 2014 with the better bike.
Do you consider clinching the Moto2 world title your best moment in your career so far?

Johann Zarco:
The victories this year were fantastic and I celebrated them more than the only other victory I got before which was in 125cc four years ago [Japan, 2011].

One really big emotional moment in my career was a dream moment, it was before the world championship in 2008 when I met Gabor Talmacsi [2007 125cc world champion] and he was fighting for the world championship in 2008. He said to me to come to Hungary and he gave me a test. He gave me a race suit and boots because I only had my helmet as I was on holiday. I did and I was fast like him and he said, 'we must find a place for you in the world championship'. It was my biggest memory in my career because maybe it is where my career began.
Right off the back of Valencia you have already started testing for next season, how has it been going?

Johann Zarco:
I have done one test but because we had the title before we used Valencia as a test even though it was a Grand Prix, then we had a two-day test in Valencia with the 2016 frame. Everything was well and I was working with the hard tyre and when I put the soft tyre in a got the lap record so it was good to finish like that.

Now I cannot realise how tired I am. Even if I don't feel I need it I must have some rest and make sure the motivation comes back very high in February. I am doing my last jobs for the sponsors but in December I will be able to stay in my house for more than five days in a row. After that we will start testing again but even if it is complicated it is not a problem, more a problem for a team. I must stay relaxed and improve my riding. If I have any weak points, I won't get stressed and work on my riding to fix it.
Throughout this season there was a lot of talk surrounding you moving into MotoGP in 2016 but the deal, for whatever reason, never came about. It is definitely something you will be looking forward to in 2017, so is it a case of you waiting to find a competitive package in MotoGP?

Johann Zarco:
If I don't go to MotoGP yet it is because the competitive package is not there. If I am waiting it is to get the competitive package, there is no sense in waiting and then taking a new bike or something like that.
Are you looking to make a similar move to what Tito Rabat has done with Marc VDS by staying in Moto2 after winning the title in 2014 before getting a factory-specification Honda?

Johann Zarco:
I think it is a good plan even if he didn't win the title this year he is stronger now than he was one year ago. It is good for him to step into MotoGP now.
Reflecting on the final few rounds in MotoGP, was the atmosphere a little different with the pressure off after winning the title and everything that was happening between Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo?

Johann Zarco:
Everybody was talking about this and in Valencia I really felt after my race when it was the MotoGP race and I was with my sponsors when Lorenzo crossed the line and won and Rossi was in fourth position we knew that Lorenzo was champion. All the people at the circuit felt it was not the celebration they were waiting for all week. It was something strange. But in the race weekend I have many things to do so I don't have too much time to think about it.
What was your point of view on the clash between Rossi and Marquez and how it unfolded?

Johann Zarco:
It is difficult to say. Everyone has already analysed it and I just hope that we will forget it soon so it is not a problem next year. I want to remember that to ride at this high speed we must be so, so focused so if they are on the top of the class this is because they are warriors. A warrior makes these kinds of decisions and sometimes it is a bad one. As a rider you have to make a decision and it is not easy to take the good one but because we are all talking about it now I hope that we will forget about this problem and restart in 2016.


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