Frenchman 15th in maiden race aboard KTM machine.
Johann Zarco trusts his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16 package is capable of finishing inside the top 10 after completing his maiden race aboard the Austrian machine at Qatar’s opening round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
The Frenchman, who wound up 15th in Sunday’s 22-lap encounter, has acknowledged the current state of the RC16 will prevent him from chasing victories and even top fives, however he’s confident top 10s are achievable – reinforcing that is the goal for this season.
“The beginning of the race was pretty good,” said Zarco. “I was controlling the bike well and the others were not much stronger than me. It was a good way to analyse the performance of the others.
“I’m happy because I expected to have some struggles but I saw other riders were also having problems – I know at the moment we don’t have the package for winning, not even for the top five but with good work and good control I really trust that a top 10 is possible and that is the target throughout the year.
“Let’s see in Argentina if I can catch it. I wanted it here but because of the up-and-down of Friday and Saturday finally I was not ready. That is part of experience, and doing 22 laps in a row was really important and the first time we do it. I have a factory team and I know they have the quality to make a strong analysis of this race.”
Qatar’s opener marks the beginning of KTM’s third season in the prestigious championship, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team manager Mike Leitner highlighting the significant improvements the manufacturer has made since entering the series in 2017.
“Both Pol and Johann were quite happy with the performance of the bike and we know we have to improve our package and continue to grow,” Leitner commented. “When we first came here we were 30 seconds from the race winner and we have to be realistic.
“This was never an easy track for us but in the middle of the race we were only 5-6 seconds away and this is very motivating for everybody in the team to keep pushing. We have eighteen more races now and we will try often as possible to get into these top 10 positions.”
The MotoGP World Championship now heads to Argentina on 31 March for round two of the series.