Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco says Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales ‘will be back’ after outshining the factory riders once again in the final race of the season at Valencia in Spain.

Zarco finished as a narrow runner-up after starting from second place on the front row to end his rookie season in the premier class on a high.

The Frenchman said he was unaware if Movistar riders Rossi and Vinales had switched to the 2016 version of the Yamaha after qualifying seventh and 13th at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit as their struggles continued. Rossi completed the race in fifth while Vinales languished in 12th place, but Zarco expects both to come back much stronger.

“I didn’t know that because it’s not my business – I have to do my things and this weekend I did it well, competitive from Friday, even more Saturday, and then fighting for victory,” Zarco said.

“So I didn’t know that and I did say yesterday is the 2016 or ’17 the bike to have. When you are struggling it is difficult and maybe it is difficult to find a solution and find a new pace for victory.

“They finish with this problem at the end of the season, but they have the test on Tuesday and Wednesday and then the test in Malaysia – they will be back. It’s not the position they can have and the difficult thing is when you start bad it is going even worse.

“Maybe we have proved that it is not depending on the bike, it is just when you are in some good mood you have the Yamaha in front as I did, and when it is a problem and you cannot solve it, then you struggle.”

Zarco was so close to achieving a dream MotoGP win in his first premier class season until he was denied by Dani Pedrosa on the final lap. However, the two-time Moto2 world champion said he could not be disappointed with how his debut season panned out.

“I must be happy and to be disappointed to lose the victory would be the wrong way to analyse the race. I have the elements in my hands to believe about the victory and I took it,” he said.

“The start was bad because at the weekend I had some problems with the start; we tried some things with the team but finally almost not enough power to go. Then I was feeling good to go and I quickly overtake and then I take the lead. I felt Marquez was under control, he was much faster and when I was digging I could not go away.

“I was feeling that he was there, he was with me, and then one time he overtook me and I didn’t want to let him go, so I tried again to go in front and he let me. He didn’t stay in front because he has another job to do today,” added Zarco.

“I was feeling quite good on the bike, sometimes I had some moments but we cannot compare with his moment! The when he overtook me another time and wanted to go faster he almost crash. So from that point I saw OK, it’s another chance to win the race, but you cannot do much more because I feel also some limits.”

Zarco felt his strategy was correct as he kept something in reserve to attack on the final laps of the race, but he was unable to respond after Pedrosa gained a few tenths when he made his race-winning pass into Turn 1 at the start of the last lap.

“I tried to keep my concentration and not do more and wait until someone attacks, save this energy to fight and it was the right strategy. When Dani did his movement on the first corner of the last lap he did very well and then I could maybe fight because I was stronger on brake, but this moment he did on the first corner gave him a little gap,” he said.

“When I tried to catch him again I have this moment on the front, but I did even think that on the last corner maybe I can attack, but yes, second place. The best thing is to believe you can win until the end and I believe it is enough for this season.”

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