Johann Zarco admitted remaining calm in the face of continued frustration was among his many current challenges as the Frenchman endured a torrid opening day of MotoGP running at the Spanish Grand Prix.

At a scorching hot Jerez, where the Frenchman scored a podium last year, Zarco regularly cut a figure of frustration. His cause wasn’t helped by two crashes – one apiece in FP1 and FP2 – and his final time of 1m 39.366s was only good enough for 20th overall.     

A new chassis that was brought to a private test at Le Mans prior to this race was only a “little better” and Zarco was still struggling for front-end feel through Jerez’s series of long, fast corners.

To cap it all, the 28-year old was caught on camera during FP1 delivering a profanity-strewn assessment of the limits of KTM’s current package. When searching for the cause of his morning crash at turn eleven he could be heard saying, “[either] we are f***ing s**t in chassis, or we are f***king s**t in controlling power.”

The double Moto2 world champion was a good deal cooler come mid-afternoon, when he spoke of the “difficult time” he is living through.

“That [keeping calm] is the challenge I’m going through," he said. "Accepting to grow up this project with everything I have in my hands. It’s a difficult time, it’s true. But OK, I think I got a better answer than I got at the last race. This is a way to get a smile, at least for tonight.”

On his day as a whole, Zarco went on: “Today I tried to start as well as possible and to go over the problem I can feel on this bike. I can compensate this problem myself and I was going quite well.

“Just on the last lap I have closed the front in corner eleven because I touched the white line inside turn eleven. It was OK, this crash. It was quite fast, but everything was OK.

“Then in the afternoon there was no way to improve. I got another crash but this was in turn two. It was a slow corner. The temperature was not helping but also what we tried to do on the bike was giving me worse feelings.

“We have to give me a good feeling back to have the possibility to improve. I still feel that if I’m four or five tenths faster I can go straight to Q2 and that would just be a very good result for tomorrow.”

On KTM’s new chassis, Zarco said, “We have to reconfirm the new chassis I tried in Le Mans. This one has been, I would say, here in Jerez also a confirmation of something a little bit better.

“It’s not something magic but it’s something where I can control better the bike. From that point I want to work and improve.”

“With the [tyre] this afternoon the hard tyre was working pretty well. Just we did the mistake that we did not try the hard front. This would help us in the afternoon – a good help for better feeling, but not for a better lap time because the wind was pretty strong.”

Zarco’s smooth, precise riding style is a contrast to that of team-mate Pol Espargaro. Through the day he attempted several riding style changes, few of which bore fruit.

“I was just trying to push into the corner like never before, putting my body out like I am the passenger of the bike,” he said. “But the problem when you are a passenger is that, if something happens to the bike, you are not on the bike any more.”

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