Soon after MotoGP qualifying at Assen, Johann Zarco cut a frustrated figure. The Frenchman could place no higher than eighth. Moreover, those in front had used his tow for their fastest times.

But upon further reflection, the Frenchman was pragmatic. To lap the 2.8-mile Dutch track 0.281s slower than eventual pole sitter Marc Marquez was no disaster. And there was the realisation that he may be touching the limit of his satellite package. Attempt to push beyond, and it all starts to go wrong.

“I wonder if maybe we are touching the best of what we can,” said Zarco on Saturday afternoon. Like Mugello and Montmeló, this weekend has seen its share of ups and downs, with a fast fall at turn seven in FP2 undoing some of Friday’s positive work.

“Today I had a good day,” said the double Moto2 world champion. “When I finish the qualifying in that position I got like angry because it’s not the best position to start the race but when you consider the gap, you cannot be disappointed. It means the job has been done and just the others are also pretty fast.

“For sure it looks like they followed me but I could not wait more and follow them. I knew, like in Qatar or also like in France but it was a bit different in France, much more in Qatar, that I have to lead and take my reference, push that and the result was great, just that this time they got a little bit more.



“But from Friday to Saturday morning we have up and down about the feeling, about the setting, I don’t know why, I wonder if maybe we are touching the best of what we can, when we try to do a little bit better, we are going worse.

“So it’s complicated for the riding because you would like to have this constant feeling, to work also on yourself as a rider, but you cannot do it very well so it’s a kind of experience. We had to do Q1, finally also that one was tough because for one tenth you are first or sixth.

“I can be happy tomorrow, I will use the medium [compound] front and the hard rear and if the weather is good enough in the morning already use these tyres and then in the race put it and see. If I found just good pace and this good feeling I did not find in Barcelona, I can hope for great things. Anyway, the motivation is still there.”

Is this a source of frustration, this feeling that he is at the limit of his package? “Yes,” he said. “I have this frustration that when we are back on the way towards the good things, I say “ok, so now we do a few steps to get better” and since maybe Barcelona, even Mugello but much more in Barcelona where we were more competitive than Mugello, the step we wanted to do does not give a better feeling.

“So we are back to a worse feeling and then we must come back and that brings frustration because I don’t know if it’s me who is going in the wrong direction or just maybe we touched the best we can.

“I think that time will tell us those things and I will stay cool because, as I say, eighth position can give this frustration but when you see the gap you cannot say that we are slow.”

What’s the difference between last year, when he scored a sensational pole position and fought for the race win at this track? “I want to say compared to last year in terms of moving closer to the max we can do, now we are doing better than last year but the others are doing even better.

“That’s the thing I knew less last year and when it was some problem maybe it was even worse. So no, we were faster this year, it’s just that maybe we were close to 100% and this made the situation that we were fighting for podium or even victory but now that we are again around 100% it is not enough anymore.

“I feel more the situation in this way, that now if we want to be fighting for the victory, we need 110% or even more but we cannot have it right now.”

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