Johann Zarco has his sights set on nothing less than MotoGP victories and podiums for Pramac Ducati this season.

A record-equalling nine riders won MotoGP races last year, including five first-time winners.

Zarco was not among them, but the Frenchman did hand Avintia a debut MotoGP rostrum and pole position (on a year-old Desmosedici) propelling him to the Pramac seat and latest GP21 machinery.

The double Moto2 champion now aims to pick up where former Pramac rider Jack Miller finished last year, the Australian battling for victory until the last lap at Valencia, followed by another second place in the Portimao finale.

"The tests were good. The level in which we began with the team was quite competitive," said Zarco, who was ranked ninth (+0.7s) on the Qatar test timesheets.

"I wish to perform around the top 5. This would be a nice first target and a realistic target because still what is in mind is the victory and podium, as Jack finished last year. So I think at the beginning the top 5 would be a good step."

Zarco lost out on what would have been his and Tech3's first MotoGP victory by 0.337s to Dani Pedrosa at Valencia in 2017, then by just 0.251s to Cal Crutchlow at Termas de Rio Hondo in 2018.

An unhappy switch to KTM followed and some LCR Honda appearances came to nothing before Zarco was convinced by Ducati to take a chance with Avintia for 2020.

Promotion to Pramac, which has machines equal to the factory team, plus his growing Desmosedici experience means the #5 is confident everything is finally in place to add his name to the MotoGP winners' list.

"It’s my time to get victories and podiums. Everything is ready. The bike is fast. The team knows the bike. With my experience, I should be able to control almost any situation. I hope now will be the time," he said.

"Compared to one year ago I’m faster. The bike is more competitive. I know the bike, what I learned from last year, I’m already using it from the first test. Everything is ready to get a good step better. I really believe it.

"Physically I even prepared myself better than before. No injuries and I could take time to feel good."

Nonetheless, Zarco – who beat the official MotoGP top speed record during pre-season testing - is taking nothing for granted.

"I expect the races to be difficult like the last years, when so many guys are so constant all race," he said. "This doesn’t make the job easy. But I learned a lot last year. Constancy is main thing. I think we’ll be so close everybody from FP2 tomorrow.

"We know Suzuki will be strong at the end of race and Ducati is fast here - Pecco and Jack will be thinking about podiums. I’ll hope to be with them."

Rookie Jorge Martin will be riding alongside Zarco at Pramac this season.

 

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