Johann Zarco says test result “doesn’t reflect our real potential”

Johann Zarco believes Honda has more potential to show despite a lackluster Qatar MotoGP test.

Johann Zarco, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Johann Zarco, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

Johann Zarco was the fastest Honda rider at the Qatar MotoGP test as he led the Japanese manufacturer’s quartet with a P17 finish.

Only Augusto Fernandez finished behind the quartet when it came to full-time riders, and Zarco’s margin of 1.2 seconds to pacesetter Francesco Bagnaia was alarming.

The 2023 Phillip Island race winner tallied 52 laps aboard his RC213V machine which he believed was important to achieve.

Quick to dismiss his overall position, Zarco said: "The position doesn't reflect our real potential, but it's been an interesting test.

“We've tried many items, and I've enjoyed the laps on the bike, which is important.

“These days have been useful to see which areas need to improve, and I like how Honda is working so far. Finally, I want to thank the team for their job.”

Two further back (one position) was Takaaki Nakagami, who admitted to making a ‘significant’ step compared to his last visit to Lusail.

Nakagami said: "We've made a significant step forward, and compared to the last time we were here, some months ago, the gap is crucial.

“However, the rest of the factories have improved too, so we need to keep working, as the position doesn't reflect our potential.

“Overall, the situation is favourable to do a good job.”

Takaaki Nakagami, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Takaaki Nakagami, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

Honda’s attempts to regain its status as one of the best brands in MotoGP has been clear this winter, as a revamped bike has been brought to the fore even though more work is needed to catch the likes of Ducati, Aprilia and KTM in particular.

LCR team boss Lucio Cecchinello was keen to highlight this, telling “Honda has worked very hard in the last months. I think harder than ever.

“They have put a lot of effort into the new bike and I must say that everything we have tested so far is showing an improvement.

“We feel like we are getting closer to our competitors. Still we have work to do so let’s keep our feet on the ground.

“But we are all very excited and motivated inside the garage.”

As part of Honda’s journey to become more competitive, a new concession rule will see them benefit along with Yamaha.

Both manufacturers will have the most testing time throughout 2024, while their full-time riders can also take part in whatever tests are organised.

“It is an asset that we are very pleased to have,” said Cecchinello. “On the other end we are also limited with the amount of tyre. 

“In reality, we can not use so many tyres so we have the concessions but we are a little bit limited.

“It will be a big help to improve our bike because we will have more testing time with our test riders and main riders.”

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