Johann Zarco continued his recent hot streak on the final day of testing at Valencia by placing third on the timesheets while gaining a greater understanding of the 2017 Yamaha M1.

Equipped with one of this year’s bikes on Tuesday, the Frenchman’s garage was filled with two ’17 specs a day later, allowing him to confirm his initial feelings, and assess the bike over a race run.

On Wednesday evening Zarco could definitively say this year’s machine requires less energy to ride, but acknowledged the rear traction issues that were often mentioned by factory riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi throughout the season.

The potential of this machine, he said, is a good deal more than his ’16 machine. And Zarco stated confidently that those particular issues with rear grip could be amended via working on set-up, rather than seeking yet another chassis modification.

“We had two bikes to test again – this version that I was using yesterday,” said Zarco, whose fastest time on Wednesday was 0.4s slower than that of overall pace setter Marc Marquez.

“At the end of the day, I could confirm again I’m spending less energy with that one. At the moment we are not super fast but spending less energy is such an important thing that we must keep when you are travelling around the world, to have facility [ease] on the bike. So I want to keep that and work on it.

“I had a great test yesterday. I was able to play more with the new bike. I had this feeling that I could put the bike almost wherever I want. Then I was not faster but the same lap time.

“Today we tried to work with more used tyres from half race until the end and see if we have better lap times. This is always complicated to analyse - if we’re much faster or not in the race pace. But at least when I was changing from one bike to the other one the difference was not big.

“It was good to compare the things. Now, when we analyse these two days of testing the ’17 bike gives me more possibilities to enjoy on the bike, to be fast and having the same lap time than with the old bike I can say that we have the same lap time but we are not at the maximum of the bike.

“With the old one I was I think at the maximum. I’m going to work on myself to use even better the bike in the future and also with the team. We will find the good set-up to go in the 1m 29s at Valencia to be faster on one lap, and then feel more comfortable after half race, this control on the bike and be fast.”

On the ’17 M1’s weaknesses, Zarco added, “I think it’s to manage this rear grip – that’s always the comment of the riders. Rear grip can be the weak point at the moment, but it was also the weak point of the other bike. So let’s see. For me, it’s not a chassis problem but a set-up problem. When we find a good balance for that, the bike will be so competitive.”

Had he consulted the data of the Movistar Yamaha riders throughout the day? “No, I did not look at that,” he said. “I really let my team analyse that. When I have a bike that I feel good with and maybe it’s my way of setting the bike, it’s better to work on this kind of feeling and progress in the way of the rider feel.”


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