As his second season in MotoGP wraps up, Crash.net spoke to Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco to look over his time with the French squad and the next step of his career with Red Bull KTM.

Following the 2018 season finale at the Valencia MotoGP, Zarco will switch to the factory KTM squad and begin winter testing at the same track next week.

Hello Johann, taking a quick look over your 2018 season before the final races [interview held on Thursday before the Australia MotoGP round] how would you assess it?

Johann Zarco: After the first fantastic season I had in MotoGP the second one has been difficult even if I started well on a good level targeting victories, but then I got problems and it has been difficult to get better results over the summer rounds.

Anyway, right now it is almost the end of the season and I can analyse that the main target is to be the top Independent rider as I was last year and I am still fighting very well for this inner-championship so I’m pretty happy even if I had problems in my mind during the summer which meant I had difficult races in the middle of the season, finally I am always getting points to fight for the championship.

It’s good to have one more year of experience that will be useful for the future and I can feel better with the bike and understand things better but I need to sometimes accept the level of the package means sometimes we cannot do much better.

Confirming your 2019 plans relatively early in the season, as many other riders also did, how much did that impact your mental side on this year?

JZ: No. Not at all as since beginning in world championships even if I was able to fix the future situation I was never thinking about the future. I was giving the best in the same way every weekend. I did the same this year, it wasn’t because I could sign early to help myself relax, that is totally not the way I work. It didn’t change anything.

Okay, as you’ve been racing against the KTM this year do you keep close contact with them or do you have any communication?

JZ: Not yet as we are waiting to start the adventure together. We have made a few contacts to organise a few things but the work will start in November immediately after the Valencia race and then we will turn the page and write a new story.

What are your expectations for that test?

JZ: My expectations for the test are to have a good feeling and enjoy myself on the bike immediately, that’s my best wish I would say, I know we are going to have a good test and a good winter to prepare for the start of the season.

I saw a team and a brand with a lot of motivation that I think gives me a lot of motivation and happiness to go there and wish for the best things. I believe we have all the things in hand to go up and fight for podiums soon or in the future but I believe in it.

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CrashTV: 

You have obviously not been on the KTM yet but do you expect to change anything with your riding style or approach?

JZ: This knowledge will come in time and I think my first moments on the KTM I will ride Zarco-style and then I think I will improve the Zarco-style. I try to improve and the target is to try to improve almost all of the time but maybe in one year we will be able to see that my style is different on that bike but I cannot tell you right now.

When we’ve seen KTM arrive in other motorsport series they go on to win eventually, that’s clearly the long-term motivation?

JZ: Yes that’s clearly the target and the motivation, you cannot race without thinking about the victory.

But how tough task is it against the Japanese manufacturers and Ducati, those that are winning and have been here for many years? How tough will that task be?

JZ: It is normal that it can be difficult but that is the competition and that is why it is nice to ride new things. If it is possible I would be so glad and so proud that I am the one who was part of it.

It was a difficult middle part of the year for both you and Yamaha, how has it been accepting that?

JZ: From the motorsport side, when you feel you can ride like the other riders but during the race you are not able to follow them and you don’t do anything worse than before but your bike cannot follow you get frustrated because you feel that you cannot do more but the guys in front are not better than you.

That is the worst moment but when you have a good race and you feel you have a good race and good work with the team and the bike, but you are only fifth or sixth, then you really need to take a step back and analyse that it is maybe the best thing possible from that weekend. If I am in the best position that we could do it is a way to see the positives and keep energy up for the next round.

Giving your best and finishing fifth or sixth but when you want to win then you are disappointed. But if you can analyse that it is the best weekend then it becomes a good result.

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