A 'low pace' weekend for Johann Zarco ended with the new Red Bull KTM MotoGP rider salvaging two points at COTA.

It says everything about the Frenchman's tough start to his 'orange' career that the 13th place was still his best finish of the season and he currently sits just 19th in the world championship.

Zarco, who admitted he was 'sad to be slow and fighting the bike' after qualifying 19th in Austin, managed his energy levels better as he battled with the physical nature of the RC16 during the race and 'took what he could'.

"I managed it much better [but] it doesn't mean that I could go faster," Zarco warned.

"I’m 13th because some guys in front had problems and crashes but this is part of racing so I just tried to finish and take what I could.

"No surprise to struggle and be so far. All the weekend we had these problems and low pace."

By contrast, team-mate Pol Espargaro qualified a KTM best of fifth and went on to claim eighth in the race, the bike's best dry result.

"Pol is riding the best of this bike at the moment," said Zarco, who remains adamant that the smooth style which took him to six podiums for Tech3 Yamaha is key to long-term KTM success.

"Johann still doesn't feel confident on the bike so we will work hard on that," said team manager Mike Leitner.

After four tests and three race weekends, Zarco and KTM appear to have concluded that only new parts can help the Frenchman's plight.

Those developments should start to arrive from the next round at Jerez, but Zarco is keeping a lid on his expectations.

"I cannot be happy now because if I expect too much of the changes to the bike and this does not come I might be even more sad," he said.

"I will try to be as natural as possible in Jerez and take as much information as I can. If small things give me that good way to improve my feeling then I will be able to use my quality and I’ll be the first one happy."

As well as the potential upgrades, Zarco will also be returning to a circuit where he has already tested the RC16.

"The potential can be better than in the November test because we improve a lot the front feeling that in November was very weak for me. We have to see," he said.

"So many guys were so fast at Jerez because they were able to use the good grip and the fresh asphalt. I hope the higher temperatures [for the race weekend] will help slow down them and I can still be the same pace or a little bit better than the test.

"That compromise could bring me good things."

Zarco was beaten by Tech3 KTM rookie Miguel Oliveira in Argentina, but finished one place ahead of the Portuguese in Austin.

The fourth KTM of Hafizh Syahrin was 18th and last at COTA.

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