Johann Zarco admitted he was “more scared than [in] pain” in the hours that followed his terrifying 170mph crash at Phillip Island – the worst of his career – but is already feeling “relaxed” thanks to his physical condition.

The Frenchman tagged the back of Marc Marquez’s Honda on the sixth-gear plunge toward turn one, an impact that sent him over the handlebars and careering along the grass at the edge of the track.

Other than feeling shaken up by the incident on Sunday night, Zarco revealed his healthy physical condition on Monday morning came as such a relief it “relaxed me a lot.”

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“I expected to be stiff and painful in a few places, but no. I was happy about that situation on Monday morning. Yeah, I felt a little bit of pain on the left side of my body but nothing worse than the day before. This already relaxed me a lot.

“I knew I was totally fit. I needed a few hours to understand that. I was more scared than [in] pain. This kind in the mind can be even worse than the physical pain. I just needed a few hours to, not forget it, but say, ‘OK Johann, just forget it, now it’s done.’

“Without any physical pain I think it’s easier, when you are totally feeling good. It was just a big moment, an experience that you want when you race at this speed.”

Asked to detail how he went about his Sunday evening after such a fall, he said, “Many things happen. You crash. Then you have to come back to the box. Then you have to answer a few interview. You change. You have some pain so then you have to go to the medical centre to check your body.

“After that, I don’t have any assistant guys so I have to pack up my stuff and put it all in my case. I went home and it was almost 7pm. I tried to eat a yoghurt and then I was scared watching this race again. It’s around 9pm I could have a good dinner with the team, speak with family and after that I was feeling better.”

Was it the biggest of his career? “Yes,” came the reply. “I want to say yes. I crashed around 200kph (124mph) before. This one was 280kph (173mph) and it makes a big difference.”

Looking ahead to the Malaysian Grand Prix, where he qualified on pole position in 2017 before securing a fantastic wet weather podium finish, Zarco believes his season of experience means he and the Tech 3 Yamaha squad “know exactly how we have to go” in terms of set-up.

“We had a test here. It was the real beginning test. It was the time I was trying the 2017 bike. I did a few days on it. It was not working, I didn’t have a good feeling. Then only on the third day we took the old bike.

“Then in Thailand we had the evolution of the wings. I cannot say we have exactly the same bike but now we have the full season of information so we know exactly how we have to go now.

“[In Australia] I was feeling pretty comfortable. I didn’t have the same tyres as the other, I mean the rear. It looked like this rear tyre was working well and to the end, but we will never know. So it was a nice feeling.

“That’s why also I wanted to stay with the top guys. I was struggling many races before and when you feel everything is going well you don’t want to miss that opportunity.”

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