Sensational Zarco braves wet weather to storm to 3rd in Malaysia – Solid performance by Van der Mark on MotoGP debut
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Johann Zarco produced a superb display today in Malaysia to blaze to 3rd and seal the second podium in his rookie season. The notable French star leapt forward from 2nd on the grid and quickly moved into the lead. He remained at the front of the field for eight laps as the rain continued to fall, before eventually meeting the chequered flag inside the top three and as the leading Yamaha rider. The result marks a highly positive close to the triple flyway races and Zarco seeks to repeat the feat at the season finale in Valencia in a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark produced a fine performance as he battled against the turbulent weather at the Sepang International Circuit. The young Dutch rider began the Grand Prix from the 8th row, but he immediately stuck into a formidable rhythm as he pushed through the field. He crossed the finish line in 16th, and ahead of several seasoned MotoGP regulars to close a positive, yet challenging, debut weekend aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to thank Michael for his efforts.
Position: 3rd – Championship: 6th – Points: 154
“It was a great race and I am happy to be on the podium again. I was a bit worried about riding in the wet because when it rained on Friday, I was not fast and overall, Marquez and Dovizioso were pretty quick. Today I used the soft tyre in order to be safe but also to get some feeling and the lap times during the race were not amazing, yet, they were fast enough to lead and I opened up a gap. It was good to start the GP in this way, and even though I felt that I couldn’t push anymore, I did enough to stay first. Then, when the two Ducati riders overtook me, I thought about fighting with them. Eventually, I lost too much in acceleration so I had to push a lot on the brakes. Yet, it was too risky and I lost the rear twice. I wasn’t sure about what to do, however, I expected the track to dry a bit, and then I wanted to attempt to catch them, but I was limited. On the last three laps, I ran alone in third, so I decided to stay focused and the result was already pretty good so I chose to be safe and enjoy it!”
Michael van der Mark
Position: 16th – Championship: Not Classified
“I am really happy with today’s result, even though it was typical Malaysia and just before the race commenced, it rained again! The team and I changed the bike considerably compared to Friday when it was wet and we went softer on the rear. I had quite a good start, and the first half of the GP went very positively as I followed the guys in front of me and I fought with a lot of riders. I’m pleased with my performance, even if I wasn’t completely happy with the bike, but it was only my second time on the YZR-M1 in the wet. In my eyes, to fight for the points and follow Maverick was really amazing. When it dried a little bit, I struggled slightly more than him, yet, I could run a similar pace. I think I lacked a bit of confidence with the turning of the bike, otherwise, I may have been able to stay with the big group in front of me. I hoped to catch them with Maverick, but I also wanted to finish the race, which I did. Overall, I enjoyed the weekend a lot and my first experience with the YZR-M1 was just amazing.”
“It’s a great way to end these three flyaway races and the weather, as well as the track conditions, were tricky but finally, we got the podium that we were dreaming of after the one we had in Le Mans. I was really sad and bitter to have just missed out on third in Australia and I thought maybe that was the last opportunity of the season for Johann to get on the rostrum again. However, he proved me wrong today. He was fast and confident about scoring a solid result in the dry, but when we saw the rain falling, we thought the chance had gone, because the feeling on Friday in the wet was not very good. He chose the soft rear tyre, started well, got his head down and ran a strong rhythm which allowed him to be in the lead for the first seven laps. This was an incredible feeling for him but even more so for us. We knew that it was always going to be difficult to stay in front of the Ducati bikes and when they passed us, it was almost like it was the plan. Then we saw Marquez closing and I was scared because we know how fast and how much of a warrior he is. Yet, when Johann saw the gap was shrinking between himself and Marc, he pushed more and finally, Marquez gave up. This is something we have to be proud about as Marc does not often give up. A podium is an incredible reward and three consecutive front rows starts, and a near podium in Australia all mean that the flyway races have gone very positively. We can see that Johann is growing and he is so much more of a MotoGP rider than when we began the year of course. On the other side of the garage, Michael van der Mark did a brilliant job. I want to thank him because it was not easy to jump on a MotoGP bike at round 17 when everyone is fast and they know their bikes so well. Like with Broc last week, he had to discover the carbon brakes, the Michelin tyres and the electronics. Yet, Michael did a top job. He was a bit unhappy with himself after the crash in qualifying, but today he showed great determination. He had a strong start and fought with Cal Crutchlow, who is a Grand Prix winner in the wet, Iannone and he closed in on the factory Yamaha’s. I must thank him for his super effort and I hope, and I think it may happen, that we will see him on the YZR-M1 in the future. Let’s hope this performance will give him a special boost that will translate into a podium in the final WorldSBK race in Qatar next week. I must say thanks to the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, so let’s fly back home and enjoy some well-deserved rest.”
MALAYSIA MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX
Pole position: Left
Length: 5.548 m
Width: 16 m
Corners: 15 (10 right, 5 left)
Longest Straight: 920 m
Jalan Pekeliling, 64000 KLIA, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia