Johann Zarco is optimistic of targeting an automatic Q2 place despite seeing his Friday practice momentum halted by the heavy rain and an FP2 crash in Valencia.

Zarco, who is aiming to secure a second consecutive top honour in the MotoGP Independents’ standings, felt a top ten spot would have been possible before missing out on his final lap in the morning session. Looking to make amends in FP2 he crashed at Turn 12 while setting fastest sector times.

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider blamed a lack of heat in his rain tyres for triggering his off, which briefly caused a red flag suspension following debris from his bike falling on the track, before the rain returned to curtail any late improvements.

Despite a mixed day ending outside the provisional Q2 spots, Zarco remains confident of finding gains in both wet and dry conditions to move up the order ahead of qualifying.

“In the morning I was careful but step-by-step the feeling was okay and I was able to take some confidence. Here the track is good in the wet so this gives a good feeling to enjoy and relax yourself but I need time to relax myself,” Zarco said. “At the end of FP1 I was going well and I just missed the last lap that could put me in the top ten. But in the afternoon there was no way to improve.

“The crash was because the rear tyre was too cold and we were not able to get enough temperature in the rear tyre, left and right, but on the right side it is worse because it is less corners.

“After the crash I did a few laps quite slow and feeling that we cannot improve. Also the other riders when it was raining even more they were not going so fast.

“I stayed in the pit to save new tyres for tomorrow morning in case of rain or a wet track when it will be good to have some new tyres to play for the top five or top ten positions minimum.

“I feel I still have confidence to improve and to work on. With the team I will see what we can improve because it has been worse this afternoon and maybe in FP1 we are already at our limit. I am worried for that but I need to accept.”

Zarco needs to defend his five-point advantage over FP2 timesheet-topper Danilo Petrucci in the riders’ standings to keep hold of the top MotoGP Independent riders’ crown, while he’s also level on points with Suzuki’s Alex Rins in a battle for a top five place in the overall championship.