Johann Zarco is looking toward Sunday’s MotoGP race with lofty ambitions after qualifying second for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, the Frenchman stating he believes victory is within his reach.

“I feel very happy to be fast again,” smiled Zarco, who missed out on pole position to Andrea Dovizioso by an agonising 0.068s thanks to a small mistake at the 2.9-mile track’s final chicane.

The double Moto2 world champion was referencing his pace across the weekend, as well as qualifying. Zarco also feels the championship permutations may have some effect on players Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso.

Judging by his comments on Saturday, he feels his Tech 3 Yamaha M1 is capable of taking full advantage of any opportunity that may arise in Sunday's 24-lap race.

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“I’m happy,” began the 28-year old. “I feel very happy to be fast again! From FP1 I got a good pace and could work well with the team. I tried to go better but this is pretty difficult.

“For the qualifying I did the first and it was a little difficult but with the second I was fast. I missed the pole by almost nothing. I did a mistake in the last chicane, but to start from the first row is the main thing and I’m pretty happy.

“It’s a good opportunity tomorrow. Dovi and Marc are fighting for the title so it’s maybe an opportunity to lead the race and why not fight for the victory.”

The front row placing was Zarco’s first since he secured pole position for his home grand prix at Le Mans back in May. On that occasion he went for broke before crashing out of a podium place. Will he do the same tomorrow?

“You need to dream,” he said. “A podium would be amazing because a top five in Thailand was good. The main thing is to be the top independent rider, catch points on Danilo and Cal. If I can catch many points tomorrow, I must take it.”

Throughout the weekend, Zarco has lacked speed through the track’s fourth sector. It was there he fell short on his fastest lap, and the Frenchman revealed he was still encountering difficulties through the final left-right chicane.

“It’s also the last sector… It’s the last chicane where I made the mistake and missed the pole. Tomorrow in the race, I don’t if I can improve there during the warm-up but maybe I can learn during the race from the top guys.”

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