Johann Zarco has moved to deny reports he has split from personal advisor Jean-Michel Bayle in light of his decision to leave KTM at the close of 2019, saying the pair have instead opted for a “little break.”

Former 500cc pole sitter Bayle is not present at a MotoGP race for the first time since Le Mans, which fuelled speculation that the ex-rider had brought the relationship – aimed at helping Zarco maintain calm over a race weekend – to a close.

While Zarco admitted Bayle was not enamoured with his decision to inform KTM management of his desire to leave its factory squad at the close of the year, he maintains the pair are still in contact. “When we will know what I’m going to do I think he will be back,” he said.

“No, that’s not true,” said Zarco when quizzed on the reports. “He’s not here this weekend because to have the future not sure, he is the kind of guy that likes to have things quite sure and needs to have things clear in front to work.

“We keep contact and we did not stop the relationship. Absolutely not. He didn’t come here to make a little break because we’re in a strange situation overall for the future. The rumours of stopping working [together] are not true.”

On how Bayle took the news he was to leave KTM, Zarco responded, “I’m happy now. He was sad that I could not say it before. But because it was a hard decision to take I went through the decision.

“I didn’t want to speak too much before and then not do anything. I did it and then I said it. For sure he was thinking we could have prepared it better. But I did it because I was really feeling bad.”

On his Friday performance, which merited the 14th fastest time, Zarco continued, “We got some good performance. A few laps were pretty good. I have anyway most of the time the same problems on the bike.

“But we could confirm a step forward that we did in Austria and we repeated it here. That was interesting. For the team it’s very important to control the situation. Miguel [Oliveira] and Pol [Espargaro] are quite fast, especially Miguel.

“That means I can catch something tomorrow. The top ten was maybe possible but with the full fresh tyres I didn’t do as good a lap as possible. Tomorrow I will try to do it and in that way if I catch a straight Q2 that will be a very nice beginning of weekend.

“Even if we have some problems I have good laps sometimes so that means I can control better the situation than the last races in the dry.”

Did he find Friday’s running any easier now he has announced his future plans? “It should be easier. It did not solve my problems yet. As a racer I have a competitive mood and I’m always a bit nervous, a bit angry when it’s not coming immediately.

“But with the decision I took I need even less to go in that angry mood. Today was OK. Really tomorrow I need to be focussed with the fresh tyre to do the perfect lap following also the good guys, because that helps a lot. Then at least we have three KTMs at a better level than usual.”

Was there a change in the atmosphere on his side of the garage? “Maybe they could think I would give up and not push anymore. Today everyone saw that I am totally there.

“I’m not the fastest one on the KTM but I’m not the slowest one. I’m really close to the top guys. They can really see that I’m giving all that I can and that’s all that they want. So no, the atmosphere is correct and OK in the box.”

 

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