The timesheets didn’t’ bear it out, but Johann Zarco insisted he was content with his progress aboard KTM’s RC16 and more comfortable with the machine’s front end after ending the first day of MotoGP testing with the 19th fastest time.

The double Moto2 world champion admitted he was “still slow” on his third day of testing with the Austrian factory, ending the afternoon 2.2s back of pace setter Danilo Petrucci, and 1s back of team-mate Pol Espargaro.

But the lack of feeling when entering turns of which he had complained at Valencia last week was not as pronounced here. Zarco feels he is at least “constant” and now has “more confidence with the front.”

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“Another day on the KTM and I’m happy because I made a step that I was looking for and with the positive parts of the bike,” he said. “It made me happy and gave me more confirmation for the technicians for which direction we have to go.

“We tried many things and catch a new feeling with my riding. It was difficult to do more laps because when we are changing big things on the bike it takes more time. It’s going well and the feeling is improving.

“The lap-time is still slow but they are so, so constant and that is a positive thing because when we move the package better and when we know it will be under one second then it will be for every lap.

“We are still trying to find our base. We have Pol’s base and he can go fast with it and we have it on one side to make sure we don't go [too far off] in one direction. We are improving. It needs time but we are getting the package better.

“When I got better confidence with the front I could play more on the bike for [corner] entry and corner speed.”

On the step up to the demands of being a factory rider, the Frenchman said, “We still have so many things to try and to understand and compared to a satellite team that is the biggest difference. I knew what I had in the last few years and it made controlling those things simple.

“Here you have much more information and more guys behind the box to control all of that but also the rider has to go ‘up’ and control feelings and emotions to understand and say good information. I am on that way.”

Three days in to life as KTM’s rider, 2018’s top satellite rider was asked about the changes he may need to make in the coming months to his own riding style. “I cannot say what percent the bike needs to change and the rider needs to change,” came the response.

“But compared to Valencia when I had two crashes here I was more under control and I think giving better information to the team. I could also follow a few guys and this gave me better information.

“I also have my own riding style and I could prove that it is working well also. We must remember that when Lorenzo went on the Ducati it took him a long time to adapt but we saw him and it was like he was on the Yamaha, there was no big difference.

“Working on the bike to give feeling to the rider is the main key. I’m keeping open-minded to adapt myself and to have a bigger range of skills on the bike but we must ‘insist’ in some way and we know that if the team can follow then it will pay back.”

There were other positives, too. Zarco has noted how the RC16’s engine is the bike’s current strong point, with performance on corner exit particularly pleasing.

“The engine. This engine is giving a good feeling to go out of the corner. Even if you miss it the bike will go and this is still one of our strong points and when we go faster we will be able to use it even better.”

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