Johann Zarco and the French-based Monster Yamaha Tech3 team will carry the hopes of the home fans during a 'special and emotional' Le Mans MotoGP.

Zarco set Le Mans alight last year with his first front row and podium (pictured), in only his fourth MotoGP event.

The satellite star returns holding a stunning second in the world championship, behind only Honda's reigning champion Marc Marquez, with two podiums from the four races so far.

“I’m pretty happy to come to my home Grand Prix being second in the Championship. I got a nice, but also lucky podium in Jerez, but this gave me a very high motivation and a big smile to start the French GP," Zarco said.

"I hope that the weather will be good, but even if we have some rain, I know my Yamaha bike well now and I know, that I have to relax on it in any case.

"Last year was one of the best races of the season, because in Le Mans I got my first ever MotoGP podium. I would like to fight for the victory, therefore I have to stay cool, work well with the team and we will see what will happen.

"I think the fact that all our fans will be there will deliver some more positive energy, maybe also some pressure, but I will change this pressure to even more positive energy, so we cross our fingers and arrive in Le Mans with full power.”

Yamaha MotoGP 2018 Team

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Last year's podium was set to be dominated by Yamaha, before a mistake by Valentino Rossi moved Zarco to second place behind Maverick Vinales and put Dani Pedrosa into the final podium place.

"I think it's wrong to think we're going to have a copy of last year's race at Le Mans," Zarco warned. "It's true that the three Yamahas were so strong, but if you expect that [again] it's the best way to not have it!

"We must see what happens. I think Marc is much more under control than last year. He should be there. And also the Ducatis were competitive this weekend so it means they can be there also in Le Mans.

"All the constructors are much closer than usual, so you can have surprises everywhere."

This weekend will also be Tech3's final home appearance with Yamaha, before both the team and Zarco start a new partnership with KTM in 2019.

A first victory for Zarco would also be the first for Tech3 in the premier-class and the perfect way to sign off their final season with Yamaha. It's the kind of fairy-tale result that is too much for team boss Herve Poncharal to contemplate at the moment.

"This year this event is even more special and emotional, because our French rider is Johann Zarco, who was just second in Spain and is sitting in second in the MotoGP provisional ranking," Poncharal said.

"Obviously, I know the fans are all waiting for something at least as good as 2017 and even better, but you don’t like to talk too much about this potential win.

"As usual we try to do everything we can to reach this and we can rely on Johann on track, but also to be present, to thank the fans for their support and answering questions."

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin aims to reclaim the top rookie spot after regaining fitness following a painful pre-Jerez bicycle accident.

“I’m looking forward to arrive in Le Mans and I want to do my best for my guys, because they are all French, so it’s our home race with many supporters. I aim to continue in the best way like during the first three rounds.

"Jerez was quite difficult after my bicycle crash at the beginning of the week. My pain is already gone and I’m back at 100 percent. Now I'm second rookie, I know Morbidelli is 4 points in front of me, but I believe that I can take on this challenge in the next race.

"I hope I can come back as strong as before and I can’t wait to start to this very important round for all of us.”



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