Johann Zarco’s good mood returned on Saturday as the Frenchman put his early set-up concerns to one side at the Circuit of the Americas and threw his name into podium contention for Sunday’s race.

The Tech 3 Yamaha rider originally qualified fourth fastest, but was promoted to third courtesy of the penalty pace setter Marc Marquez received for touring on the racing line, and slowing Maverick Viñales’ lap. Zarco will now start his seventh straight MotoGP race from the front row. 

Speaking before Marquez’s penalty was announced, Zarco said, “Difficult track as I say, I wanted to be quicker in the pace on Friday but we have been unlucky with a few problems that can happen in this kind of sport. But lucky today to have dry conditions and push a lot to be back in the top ten.

“But from that it gave me a good mood, meaning is I feel good I can be fast and in the qualifying the job is done. I missed the front row for almost nothing, but it means I'm there and it's pretty good.”

Does he believe a podium fight is possible? “It will be nice,” he said. “I will take the opportunity to fight for the podium, the race can be difficult for everyone and maybe not so many guys know well if they can keep the pace from the beginning to the end.

“So knowing the way I'm riding and the way I can use the tyre maybe I have a chance to have a place on the podium.”

On tyre choice, Zarco added, “Soft one for me is not a good solution. It's giving a worse feeling than the medium. To be fast using the medium logically can be good for the race. So we are at the moment in medium-medium.”

Asked about the mood in the safety commission meeting on Friday, in which rider behaviour was discussed at length, Zarco offered, “Pretty happy in the way we were speaking to each other. It was calm and we were telling straight things to each other. So it has been like a real man's discussion and was nice.

“About the decisions of the Stewards, they are going to be more strict and we say a few things in the way that we would like them to take their decision. Maybe the only rule that can change is in case of a wet race, maybe not be able to go out of the grid. In this case if we already did it in Argentina Miller could win.”

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