2015 & 2016 Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco celebrates today his 27th birthday. On this occasion, we will take a look back to the interview the Frenchmen gave to our site before the start of the 2017 season.
Hello Johann, first of all congratulations for the amazing results you achieved in the last two seasons. How would you rate your 2016 season?
Well, winning the second title was fantastic. I raced with the same team and the same bike as in 2015, but this does not mean it was easy, as I had a lot of pressure from the media and from the other riders on me. Winning the title is the perfect way to say goodbye to the Moto2 class and step up to MotoGP.
During the last 2 years you have worked with Aki Ajo. How was it like to have him as your boss? Did you get on well with him?
I have also worked with him in 2011 in the 125cc class. I love the way he manages his team, the mentality inside it is very good. He is a professionist and he has always helped me to focus on what I have to do. When I see him I can talk to him, he is a very nice guy. Also, he has a junior team, I have a school, so our relationship is not over.
You have raced with #5 for a big part of your career. Does it have any special meaning to you?
I used it when I raced in Red Bull Rookies, but I could not use it at my debut in the World Championship as it was already taken, so I used #14. Since the third season I came back to #5, I did it because of my manager who had worked in the past with a rider who used this number and he was always telling me interesting stories about him.
Do you prefer wet or dry conditions?
I think everey rider prefers dry as you can push more and the risk of falling is smaller, but I can say that I also feel good in the wet. I like the most when the race starts in wet and continues in dry, as I can save the rain tyres and create big differences between me and the other riders.
Did the 2016 title feel as good as the 2015 one or was it more special?
It felt very well, as I said, because of the pressure. I was not as constant as in 2015, in that year I took the title pretty quick, the point difference was big all the time and I could control my emotions. On the other hand, in 2016 the difference was much smaller, I was the man to beat, and when I finally won it all the pressure was gone and i was more emotive.
Did you felt in any moment in 2016 that the title might escape your grasp?
Yes. The difference between me and the other riders was always very small. I started the year in a bad way with that jump start in Qatar and with the crash at home in Le Mans. I was always confident that i will take the title by working hard, but of course I thought that my rivals deserve it and are able to win it.
You celebrate every win with a backflip. Who gave you the idea?
It comes from my highschool period. I was doing it with my friend. The first backflip made after a race was after I won my first race in Red Bull Rookies. Then I stopped doing it, but from 2015 it became like a signature for me. It is very funny and some nice photos can be done.
In 2017 you will race for Yamaha Tech3. What are your first impressions of the staff and the bike?
My impressions are very good, being in a French team helps me a lot because in MotoGP there are a lot of technical things to understand which, talking French with my mechanics, I understand better and faster. I did lots of laps on the new bike and the feeling is great. For the moment we do not know what the limit is, and it feels very good to push.
What is your objective for the upcoming season?
Winning the Rookie of the Year title. I think I will fight for it with Folger and Rins, both having good bikes. Also I think we need to finish close to the top 10.
A message for Wheelies fans, please.
I want to say to everyone ”multumesc!” (I know how to say ”thank you” in Romanian!!). I have never been to this country but I plan to do it as it seems to be many fans there. Thank you for following me and I hope to show you some backflips soon.
photo – Yamaha Racing