Johann Zarco: ‘The DNA of the bike must change’

Johann Zarco: 'There is a bigger problem, like from the base of the bike... the DNA must change'

Johann Zarco, 2024 French MotoGP
Johann Zarco, 2024 French MotoGP

Johann Zarco equalled his best LCR Honda result of the season with a 12th place in Sunday’s French MotoGP at Le Mans.

But while the home star was satisfied with his personal performance, finishing as the top Honda after Joan Mir’s fall directly ahead of him, he was equally clear about the fundamental changes needed to the ‘DNA’ of the RCV.

“Now when you get 4 points, you take it as a positive,” he said. “First target, finish the race and get these points.

“We know we are not competitive yet, we accept it, but we try to keep working as if we can play for the podium to keep these feelings.

“I split the performance during all the weekend [between] the bike and myself. And since Jerez I feel quite competitive. I feel very focused on what I have to do, able to attack when it's necessary to attack and this brings me good satisfaction.

“Now I look forward to the private test at Mugello on Wednesday. I will know our plans for the test during Tuesday, there was no need to know during the race weekend.”

Asked if he had tried a modified swingarm seen on the bike of team-mate Takaaki Nakagami during the weekend, Zarco explained:

“That will not change a lot at the moment… At the moment, it's just some tests to get more information about how we can handle the [rear] grip.

“But there is a bigger problem, like from the base of the bike, from the heart of the bike. Okay, the heart is the engine and I don't mean it's the engine, but I mean the DNA of the bike must change to give us a second breath.”

Zarco's top Honda race time of 41'50.518 compared with a 41'54.340 by Nakagami in 2023, when he was the only RCV rider to reach the finish. 

The Japanese set an almost identical time of 41'53.735 over the 27 laps on Sunday.

The problem for Honda was that the race-winning pace improved by 14.261s, from 41'37.970 by Marco Bezzecchi in 2023 to 41'23.709 by Jorge Martin in 2024.

One year ago, Zarco had delighted his home fans with a podium finish with Pramac, but he felt they had supported him even more this time.

“I expected to see them sad about the tough result on the Honda, but finally I'm seeing them much more supporting and that's so nice to feel,” he said. “So they gave me a good motivation also to come back for the next years.”

Yamaha, whose lone Sunday finisher Alex Rins also set roughly the same pace as the M1 rider at Le Mans last season, will join Honda with its race riders at the Mugello private test. 

Aprilia and Ducati, which do not have access to the full range of concessions, will be present only with test riders.

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