Johann Zarco says topping the timesheets on Friday ahead of the concluding round of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship is a fitting bonus at the end of an eventful 12-month cycle as an Avintia Racing rider.

Having parted ways with KTM mid-way through the 2019 season and seen his hopes of a switch to Repsol Honda scuppered, Zarco faced the prospect of retreating back to the Moto2 championship he had already won twice for 2020.

However, a Ducati=initiated reorganisation would see it bring the erstwhile privateer Avintia Racing outfit under its wing as a ‘second satellite’ entity in an effort to secure the services of Zarco, albeit at the behest of Karel Abraham who was dropped to make way for him.

This was despite Zarco emphatically dismissing the prospect of joining Avintia Racing initially before Ducati attracted him with the prospect of a year-old GP19 and some factory support.

The rest has since become history, Zarco enjoying a revival of fortunes and elevating Avintia Racing to loftier heights than it has ever experienced before, most notably at Brno where he achieved a shock pole position and podium. 

Other strong results have followed and Zarco has often emerged as top Ducati representative at the end of sessions, form that has duly earned him a promotion to Pramac Racing for 2021.

Referring to the ‘doubts’ he had initially when joining the team, he says leading the way on Friday at Portimao is a nice way to bring himself full circle.

“It’s true leading the classification on Friday brings happiness to the team and clearly one year ago I had some doubts about them, then during the season from Malaysia in the test I immediately understood that things were going pretty well. 

“It was nothing about the mechanics, it was more about the control of the situation, but Ducati said we are there and showing that it is going well. Finishing well would be nice and we are working well but then it is just building up an even stronger relationship with Ducati next year.”

Fastest of all at the end of MotoGP’s first day competing at Portimao, Zarco is confident of a direct route through to Q2 from FP3.

“A good day, a great finish with the tyre. I did two laps, pretty good, for sure the guys in front on a new track there is always room to give a little bit more. When you are not seeing the corners, you have someone in front for reference, it can really do good things. 

“From the morning, the adaptation of the track wasn’t bad but we did a very good lap because at the end of the session this morning I was not happy because the bike was pretty out of control but we made some progress.

“It is nice to lead a classification on Friday at a new track, tomorrow I think I will be able to improve. Maybe a few guys in 1m 38s to reach Q2, this is the target tomorrow.”

 

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