New Red Bull KTM recruit Johann Zarco admits the winter did not provide his team with enough time to implement “huge” changes on its 2019 MotoGP bike.

Having made the switch from Tech 3 Yamaha, Zarco ended the first day of Sepang’s official pre-season test riding KTM’s RC16 down in 20th in the timesheets, over 1.5 seconds off the pace of Marc Marquez

Zarco also finished up well adrift of new KTM stablemate Pol Espargaro, who wound up 10th despite suffering a small crash, which he attributed to pushing too hard in the search for improved lap time.

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“We are improving but we are not doing big changes at the moment because it’s a lot of work to do and the changes we want to do, they are quite huge,” Zarco said. 

“So for the company we need time and the winter was not enough. At the moment all what we do is to confirm where we want to go. 

“We did already a perfect day here and keep doing this little works, just to confirm things on the bike and confirm the feeling instead of really changing big things,” he added. 

“It’s a lot of work that we are doing, that’s why it is not a big improvement all the time but compared to the beginning of November I get much more control and all the information I’m giving, it’s getting more and more clear. 

"I want to stay positive because we know where we want to go.”

The Frenchman was pleased by the overall improvements made since making his KTM bow at last year’s tests and says he has found more confidence in the front-end of its 2019 challenger, though Zarco admitted that KTM is losing out at mid-corner compared to its rivals. 

“I’m trusting the bike more and more,” he explained. “The weak point for me was the front and now I can try things and feel better the front and I’m not crashing. 

“We have struggled to make the turn with the bike, that is difficult to me. I’m really not having the same [riding] style [compared] to Pol. 

“The middle and the exit [of the corner] were the places but overall the middle of the corner I was losing the most compared to all the different riders.” 

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