Johann Zarco has confirmed that he will switch back to the Yamaha chassis he used last year for the remainder of preseason after ending the final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang with the ninth fastest time.

The Frenchman spent Sunday and part of Monday evaluating a pair of 2017-spec frames, and while he judged them to be kinder on the rear tyre, he felt his outright speed was lacking compared to his factory-mounted counterparts.

Ultimately, Zarco would switch back to his chassis from last year – a ’16 spec, used by Jorge Lorenzo in his last year at Yamaha – which housed an updated engine. Impressions were good too, with the 26-year old “pretty happy” with the outcome of a mini-race simulation early in the day.

“So today I decided to use my bike from last year to have all the information and understand even more things about my feeling,” Zarco explained. “In the morning it was the perfect conditions to be really fast and a 1m 59.5 is quite good, but not good enough.

“At least I could have the grip I was missing the day before. I feel that now with one more year of experience I still have things to learn. I will, at the moment, at the next tests keep working on the bike I was using last year and find a way to ride it as Lorenzo was riding it two years ago. I think doing what he was doing will help me be faster.

“[I’m] Pretty happy because three days of testing and no crash. That’s important to be back on the best confidence. Then today I did good laps and the conditions were so good in the morning. We tried to use this opportunity to be faster.

“ A 1m 59.5s is not bad and I would like a bit better but I need to wait a little bit to improve also myself. Then when it was quite warm we used these tyres that I did the fast lap [with].

“I tried the race simulation and did 13 laps in a row. Physically I was feeling much better than what I was doing one year ago. The pace could maybe be four tenths faster every lap. It should have been faster but at least I was so constant with saving my energy.”

Pressed on his current engine spec, Zarco remained vague: “It’s difficult to say. This, I don’t know. I know that I have more power than the year before.

“So if I can use my experience and the experience with the team, because now we know each other better and we still have little things to adjust plus the engine, and I should be even more competitive to be on the podium.”

Zarco had Yamaha’s new aerodynamic package at his disposal throughout the day too, a component that was met with overall approval.

“[It was] Also great,” he said. “It’s giving more stability and when you have this stable bike you can relax yourself even more. I will work with it for the year. It depends which track but I think at almost each track we can have good front contact and stability.

“When you’re full leaning and you try to open the throttle, you feel that you are less scared to close the front.”

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