Johann Zarco has explained his decision to accept a stand in slot at LCR Honda for the final three MotoGP races of 2019 over a testing role with Yamaha, reasoning, “I want to be a top rider… Top riders need to race.”

The Frenchman said he is under “no illusions” about his future in the premier class, accepting a seat in Moto2 is his best chance of securing a ride for 2020.

“Racing is the main thing for me at the moment and, I hope, for the next few years,” he told reporters at Phillip Island. “That’s why I chose this option and this bike with Lucio Cecchinello than putting myself in a test team.

“It’s no illusion. My future [with LCR Honda] is very short. But at least it will be very intense. I chose this option because that’s the best way to race. Even if I have to go back to maybe Moto2 I will have to speak with some teams for next year.

“As I said, I was thinking about a test team when I stopped with KTM. But when I watched the other guys racing even Moto2, I want to be 20 races on the bike and have races. It’s really simple.

“It will be open again, the 2021 market. It will be open early in 2021! That can be an option but really my future is just three races. That’s all.”

Does this mean he has completely ruled out a testing role? “Never say never,” he said. “But I want to be a top rider and to be a top rider you need to race. Even when you race in Moto2 you keep this top rider feeling inside you.

“You can see what Fabio is doing. Also when I came to MotoGP I had no experience in the class but I did well because the racing mood was there.”

How did he find the experience of watching races from home? “I mean it was strange,” he said. “I see that when the guys are racing it’s like I’m still racing with them. I understand everything very quickly.

“It means I cannot be in front of the TV. I must be on the track. At least I got three weeks at home. I did a very good training. I could also make clear many things. Physically I’m better than the way I was in September.”

Full-time rider Takaaki Nakagami amassed 74 points in the first 16 races to sit twelfth in the world championship with a best finish of fifth place. From this evidence Zarco believes the 2018 spec RCV213V is capable of top ten finishes.

“Normally if I ride well this bike I should be in the top ten. It’s the minimum of what the bike can do. I have to be clever to bring the bike at this level.

“I have a 2018 bike and I have to use it. It remains a Honda for me. I’m so excited just to go on the bike. It doesn’t matter too much the technical things. I want to catch this opportunity that was coming to me.”

And how does he expect the ’18 RC213V to behave? “No idea! I just saw one guy that is destroying everybody. I want to understand why or to learn from this. Let’s see. For me just I know the bike can be competitive. It will be more clear for me where is my level.”

 

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