Johann Zarco’s preparations for a victory challenge at the first MotoGP race of the year continued apace on Friday, the Frenchman finding “huge improvements” with a new Michelin tyre, leading him to conclude “we found what we were missing.”

The Tech 3 Yamaha runner was fourth fastest at the close of play – 0.288s off the front - after spending much of the day in second, behind Andrea Dovizioso. His pace during a twelve-lap run just after 17:00 was a match for anyone, perhaps bar the lead Ducati rider.

“Overall, it was a great day, we made some huge improvements with the new tyre and I’m happy about that,” he said. “With used tyres we also had a good pace and the conditions were pretty interesting today. We were better than yesterday, as we found what was missing. But we’re still working on it.

“I feel we are on a good level, but maybe not on the top level to fight for the victory. So it’s quite obvious, that we still have some work to do. What I can feel on the bike is really nice, the top speed is great as well, yet I enjoy riding here a lot. For tomorrow, we’ll try some more details to further improve.

“If we want to fight for victory, we have to find three or four tenths quicker every lap.”

Asked to specify in which area he was honing his riding style to bring about the necessary improvements, Zarco said, “[The aim is] To compromise, to have a better feeling all the time and control well the driving of the bike, the traction when you open the throttle. This is the way. But it's coming also from the entry into the corner.

“Today we were doing step by step small things, and I think tomorrow we have to keep the same way of working, because we are going to find these good things. Hoping to have good conditions, to have this constant work as we did today.”

“With this bike, we have a lot of power, I think it's most of the time the exit of the corner where we can find small things to have better acceleration.”

Jorge Lorenzo, three times a world champion with the Yamaha M1, remains a reference, too.

“I must keep in mind that his style was really fast on the Yamaha, so when I'm riding, I try to think about that. And it's really in all the ways you manage the bike, from the moment you brake, to the moment you open the throttle.

“I think he had a really high confidence with the front tyre and the front of the bike, and this is the way I try to take this confidence.”

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