Johann Zarco starts his second MotoGP season at Qatar this weekend with victory on his mind.

The Frenchman stunned by leading his first premier-class laps for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team one year ago, only to fall - but proved it was no flash in the pan by going on to claim three podiums, two poles and sixth in the world championship.

Zarco has continued the momentum during winter testing, sidestepping the inconsistency of the factory team, culminating in the fastest lap time during the final test at the same Qatar circuit.

While the double Moto2's champion's race simulation wasn't as impressive, Zarco knows he is within reach of fighting for what would be Tech3's first MotoGP win at the start of their final season with Yamaha.

“The season is about to start and I’m pretty happy for that. The last test in Qatar has been great, finishing with the best lap time gave the team and myself a very high motivation and good confidence," Zarco said.

"We know, we still have things to work on to be able to fight for the victory. But I can start the first race weekend of the year with the wish to fight for the win and I’m pretty happy to have this feeling already before the first competition.

"I want to keep enjoying! Let’s see what the race weekend in Qatar has to give to us.”

Team boss Herve Poncharal added: “Johann feels more than ready to start the season with a very strong feeling, thanks to the great feedback he has found riding his new bike, especially during the last two tests in Thailand and Qatar.

"He has shown the world, that he’s a part of the top five MotoGP riders and his intention is to start the 2018 season where he left off in 2017."

Zarco finished just 0.337s from victory in the final round of last season.

Alongside Zarco this season will be Malaysian rookie Hafizh Syahrin, who has adapted well to the M1 during a mere six days of testing.

“I’m so happy that I will ride the full season in MotoGP and I’m looking forward to the first round in Qatar," Syahrin said. "I will try to do my best for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team and all of my fans, who support me tirelessly.

"I’m ready to arrive at the opening weekend at 100 percent, because I was training really much. I’m very encouraged by the team work we did during the test in Losail. I hope the hard work pays off from the first Free Practice this week.”

"I have to say, that sometimes bad luck or struggles emerge to a very interesting situation, which is exactly what is happening now," Poncharal said of his new rider.

"We are more than happy to have Hafizh Syahrin with us. He’s a very talented young rider and a charming guy, plus I believe he has already, but hopefully he will again surprise quite a few people in our paddock."

First free practice takes place on Friday.


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