Johann Zarco says he feels better prepared for his home MotoGP race compared to last year in his bid for a maiden MotoGP win while is wary of the long run pace of Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales after Friday practice at Le Mans.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider ended FP2 fifth fastest just behind both factory Yamaha riders Vinales (fourth) and Valentino Rossi (third), Marquez in second and timesheet-topper Andrea Dovizioso.

Zarco, who claimed his maiden MotoGP rostrum at Le Mans last year, already feels more prepared for his home round despite the heighted expectations on him after a quick start to the year being second in the riders’ standings, and feels it will be a competitive race weekend between a number of front-runners.

“Marc did his fastest lap time with the hard tyre so it means he is strong,” Zarco said. “Vinales is good also with the used tyre and finding the pace so he is there. All these top riders can be competitive.

“Compared to last year I feel much better. What I learnt last year was when I was struggling I crashed and then I found, finally, a good riding style. I feel today that I could start immediately on my first lap with that good feeling so I am already one day more ready compared to last year.”

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On Thursday during the build-up to the French MotoGP, Zarco said he was targeting his maiden premier class win at Le Mans and despite the added pressure of his home round he feels his experience from last year will aid his challenge this weekend.

“I cannot say that I am stronger with the pressure but I can say now with time I am managing it better,” he explained. “I can close myself enough before practices to get on the bike and do the job.

“I mentioned about pressure but I can manage this pressure well and I feel good and happy to see all the fans screaming my name and supporting me. I don’t feel this pressure on the bike so that is very important.”

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