With an incredible strong performance Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco fought back to the top 5 in today’s scorching first ever Thailand Grand Prix. Starting from the third row of the grid, the fast Frenchman was quickly inside the fight for the top. Although he got passed later during the race, he fought back very strong to catch the fifth position on the final lap and eventually finish as the best independent rider.

Likewise Hafizh Syahrin showed an amazing performance at the hot Chang International Circuit. Launching his 15th MotoGP race from P18, he found an impressive rhythm after the first laps and passed one opponent after another. The Malaysian newcomer to the premier class kept his fast lap times until the finish line to earn the laurels for the best rookie, plus four important points in the championship.


Johann Zarco
Position: 5
th - Championship: 8th - Points: 123


Zarco 2018"It’s a track I like. The test has already been good in February. During the race weekend I was struggling, as I found it difficult to have a good pace, but in the race finally I was not that bad as I was thinking. I could enjoy it and was able to stick with the front, but still there was a gap in acceleration, so you need to compensate this, but when you try to catch them on the brake, you easily do a mistake and it was pretty difficult. I had to fight with Viñales in the beginning, but did a mistake and then I had to fight to catch back up. The pace was good. Then I saw Rins, I could push even more and overtook Crutchlow, plus Pedrosa crashed, so it was a tough race. It was difficult for me, but I think it was also difficult for them and at the end, I was fighting with Rins, who was in front of me. I was feeling good enough to catch him, but I knew that I had to stay focussed to don’t do any mistake. Finally, he went a little bit wide and I could go inside in corner nine to safe the fifth position. I’m pretty happy, because I’m not far from the winner and first independent is very good for the championship overall."


Hafizh Syahrin 
Position: 12th - Championship: 18th - Points: 28


Syahrin - 2018"I’m really happy to be back in the points. In the beginning of the weekend, FP1 until Qualifying, I was always in P18, so I felt a bit disappointed to myself, but I never gave up. I was really working hard with the team and they believed in me, which is what I needed. In the beginning of the race, my bike was overheating. The oil temperature was too hot and I didn’t feel the power of the bike. I tried to understand and try to think what I can do, so I decided not to use any slipstream because the bike was so hot. So, I first passed Nakagami and thought I can catch up with Morbidelli, I passed him and then I tried to keep the rhythm. I was really consistent. But still, I need to work hard in the next rounds and try to get closer to Morbidelli again. Now we made two points on him, but it’s still five to go, so we have to try to be in front of him for the rest of the season. Now we start to believe in our capacity, the bike worked well, I chose the right tyre and overall, we were working very well. I’m truly happy."


Hervé PONCHARAL

Team Manager


“What a race here in Buriram for the Thai Grand Prix! After what we saw in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP, I really wouldn’t understand if the Thai crowd doesn’t love this sport. I think it was an incredible day, an incredible and mad crowd, which is an unbelievable feeling. For Monster Yamaha Tech3, we didn’t really know what to expect here. There was a lot of concern about the track conditions, the heat on the track and the tyre was a bit of a worry for everyone. Johann bravely decided to take a medium front, which was the softer option compared to most of his opponents and at the end of the race that paid off. The lap time never dropped. He had a great start, was right in front with the group, unfortunately he had a little bit of a moment touching Maverick (Viñales) in turn one, where he lost a full second on the leading group and then slowly by slowly, him, Dani (Pedrosa) and Alex (Rins) caught back on the front, but Johann was behind. Then Dani made a mistake and you could see that he was clearly closing. Cal (Crutchlow) was slowing down and finally we didn’t know if we could have the possibility to pass Alex in the last sector of the last lap, but he made it. A top 5 is an unbelievable result, very close to the leaders and Yamaha was in three, four and five, so we were right behind the factory guys, plus the best independent rider, which is quite a lot time it didn’t happen and the independent championship between Johann, Cal and Danilo (Petrucci) is very close. It’s really exciting and I’m very happy for Johann and the whole team as well, because recently we went through some tough times and we know that a positive result brings a lot of positive spirit and a lot of the result is in the rider’s mind. So, Johann is leaving Thailand for a week off before Japan with a positive frame of mind, which is very important. On the other side of the garage, Hafizh had a bad start, but showed an unbelievable recovery. He was lapping really fast, I was impressed. He decided to go hard – hard like the big boys and made it work. He passed all of his main opponents and just to die on the rear wheel of Andrea Iannone. His race was honestly one of the best the whole year. It was a bit of struggle in Misano and Aragon and we didn’t know what to expect, but he showed us that we shouldn’t worry about the future. He’s learning a lot, his physical condition was great and without a small technical issue on his equipment I think there was a small possibility to end up ahead of Iannone. At the end of the day we are happy, our two guys made a great race and also very big congratulations to Hafizh and the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 crew. Now we have one week before Japan, but if the show is the same there, it’s going to be another exciting week. Meanwhile, we are packing as happy guys.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco displayed a strong performance in today’s third Free Practice and progressed to ninth on his last lap to clinch a direct Q2 entry at the Chang International Circuit. In Qualifying the fast Frenchman cut off 0.95 seconds from his fastest lap on Friday and ensured a start from the third row for the first ever Thailand Grand Prix at 14.00 local time (9.00 CET) on Sunday.

Likewise Hafizh Syahrin made a huge step in FP3 this this morning, braking the 1:32’ mark to improve by 1.042 seconds compared to the first session on Friday. In Qualifying this afternoon, he lowered his lap time by further 0.330 seconds and eventually found himself in eighth place, missing out on Q2 by only 0.478 seconds. The Malaysian rookie aims to work further towards the race in Warm Up tomorrow morning in order to bring home some important championship points again.


Johann Zarco 
Position: 8th -  Time: 1'30.471 - Laps: 8


Zarco 2018"P8 is ok. Again, I’m just three tenths from the top guys. It’s super close! Maybe I could do one tenth better in Qualifying, the bike was responding well and an even better lap would have been possible, but it’s always difficult. About the race, it’s a track I like, so I hope I can enjoy. I wish that I can be competitive with used tyres, because that’s our weak point at the moment, but anyway, my feeling here is better than in the last two races. We have to take it easy. With the heat it’s going to be a difficult race, so I want to keep good energy and fight until the end to have a good result."


Hafizh Syahrin 
Position: 18th -  Time: 1'31.398 - Laps: 8


Syahrin - 2018"I was able to improve my lap time from the winter test, but it was still not enough today. We keep working hard and we’re definitely on a positive way, I just need to work step by step, as it’s not easy in this category. So, I try to keep pushing hard and work even better and I hope we can do something for tomorrow’s race."

With a strong start this morning Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco laid down a first marker at the Chang International Circuit, concluding FP1 in sixth position, just 0.566 seconds behind the top. However, in FP2 the fast Frenchman was able to lower his lap time at the hot new venue in the MotoGP calendar to eventually secure a top 10 spot in the last seconds of the session, missing out on the fastest guy by just 0.331 seconds.

Hafizh Syahrin, who tested the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the very first time at the Thai track this February, was finding back his rhythm in FP1 and improved by 0.593 seconds in the course of the second session this afternoon in order to complete the first Thai Grand Prix day only 0.756 seconds behind his teammate in 18th position. The Malaysian rookie is set to further chase the fastest in FP3 tomorrow morning at 9.55 local time, which means 4.55 CET.


Johann Zarco 
Position: 10th -  Time: 1'31.421 - Laps: 46


Zarco 2018"I’m so happy to be in Buriram. This Friday has been ok. The first session was great and in the second one I tried to work with the used tyres and that feeling was pretty difficult like in the last two races, when I was struggling a lot. But I tried to create these conditions in order to try to understand and to find some solution together with my team. In the end, we put in a new tyre and I improved my lap time from this morning. I’m on the limit in the top 10, but I’m there. It’s just a few tenths from the first position, everybody is so close, therefore it would be good to make further steps, as it’s really important here in the heat to have a good feeling on the bike."


Hafizh Syahrin 
Position: 18th -  Time: 1'32.177 - Laps: 42


Syahrin - 2018"I felt good during this first day, my lap time was quite good, only my position is a bit far from the top. But I have better sensations with the bike, I just need to try to find some changes to help me turning and at the exit of the corners. I believe tomorrow we can discover something. We are working really hard inside the team, trying to improve our weak points. I had a good feeling today, but we know that we have to continue working hard, step by step and I hope that tomorrow we can already improve the time. It’s just one second, but I want to be closer."

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