Johann Zarco defends MotoGP Qatar race-leading strategy

Johann Zarco has defended his race strategy in the MotoGP season opener, where he slipped down the order in the closing stages after leading most of the race

Johann Zarco defends MotoGP Qatar race-leading strategy

The Tech3 rider led the first 17 of 22 laps at Losail, having set a record lap to claim pole position, before gradually falling back and finishing in eighth place with a front tyre problem.

The Qatar race was characterised by the leading riders conserving their tyres for much of the distance, with winner Andrea Dovizioso and runner-up Marc Marquez waiting until the final five laps to make a break at the head of the field.

Zarco however denied that leading the pack for so long ended up contributing to his problems in the final stages of the race.

"Everything was OK with tyre consumption," he said. "I would even say that I would have used my front tyre more if I had been behind and not in front.

"I would do the same again. Everything was in control. At one point, I was waiting.

"I said to myself, 'If no one is passing me, it means that I'm still quite fast, so let's see what happens'.

"I feel like when you race behind [another rider], you push more and in the end doing my own line may have helped me to hold [the lead] until five laps to the end and go down only to eighth."

While Zarco is yet to win a race in the top class of grand prix racing, he believes he can go into every event aiming for victory, even if he has to revise his target as the weekend develops.

"At the beginning, without having started the weekend, you need to aim for the win," he said.

"That's the ambition. Then, according to the practice and if you face some difficulties - set-up problems or maybe a lack of ease on the bike - then you have to revise this aim downwards.

"But when you come strong from a Qatar Grand Prix as I do, there is no other option than aiming for the win.

"[You need] a little bit of luck. You need to fight and play your cards.

"This time, luck wasn't on my side, so wait until Argentina, go with the win in mind and understand [the situation] as the weekend goes."

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