With a fantastic fifth place from the very first Thailand GP in his pocket, Johann Zarco arrives in Motegi, Japan this week with high hopes. As with this positive boost the French star aims to claim back the lead in the independent riders championship from Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci during the first of three back-to-back rounds in Asia and Australia.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Hafizh Syahrin is on a mission as well. In the 16th MotoGP race of his career he arrives with great memories, as the Motegi Circuit is one of his favourite tracks, plus the Malaysian rookie lands in Japan after a promising top 12 result in Buriram, targeting another points scoring position. The action is set to commence at 9.55 local time (2.55 CET) on Friday with FP1.
Championship: 8th - Points: 123
"Motegi is a very nice track in Japan. I got great memories there from the 125cc Category in 2011, the title in 2015 and the pole position last year. Sometimes I forget that I got the pole there last year. I think if we have dry conditions during the weekend, for me it would be the first time on dry surface with the Yamaha because last year the entire weekend was wet, but anyway, I think I can get some good results there. I don’t know if I can be close to the race winner like in Thailand, but after this great Sunday in Buriram I for sure wish to be back up there again. Another top 5 would be fantastic. Being the first independent rider is anyway the main target, so let’s see. The track is good and the circuit of the big manufacturers like Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki. There’s always a special atmosphere, also in the paddock. I just look forward to go fast on this circuit."
Championship: 18th - Points: 28
"I can’t wait to arrive in Motegi, Japan, because it’s one of my favourite circuits. I hope I can do well. I try to be inside the top 15 again and aim to be the best rookie. The team and me, we always work hard and now we’re already a lot closer. The team knows my style and I know the character of the bike a lot better than the last few races. I hope when we arrive there, we are ready to fight from FP1 to race day. I need to have a good position in Qualifying in order to have a good start and try to find a good group to score points. A few races I was starting from far behind and it was difficult in the first laps to come closer to the front. Now I try to improve my Qualifying to be in the middle of the field, so I have a better position to start. Maybe we can make it into the top 10 for the second time this year, the main goal is to collect some points and be as close to the front as possible."
"After the Thai Grand Prix the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is heading to the second GP in Asia, which is going to be Motegi, Japan. The Japanese round is always a very important race for the whole paddock, as it is the home of three of the top manufacturers involved in the MotoGP class. There is a lot of history, there are many suppliers there and for sure it is always a very special race with a lot of pressure, a very good organization, a circuit that our two riders like quite a lot and where Yamaha has always been strong. We know the weather can be very changeable at this time of the year and when it’s dry and warm this is a great place to race. So, let’s hope for a great week in Japan and wish our two riders, Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin will continue to show the form they were showing in Thailand."