Frenchman finishes inside the points at Phillip Island.
It was an uplifting return to the MotoGP World Championship for Johann Zarco at Phillip Island after previously being benched by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, the Frenchman finishing inside the points on debut aboard the LCR Honda RC213V.
Zarco initially had his two-year deal cut short with KTM after struggling to adapt to the RC16, however he was later stood down by the team for the season-remainder. With Takaaki Nakagami sidelined due to shoulder surgery, the former podium contender was granted a three-race opportunity with the Honda outfit.
The number five was forced to make his maiden outing on the Honda in challenging conditions, with Saturday’s qualifying postponed to Sunday due to dangerous winds, where he eventually qualified in P14.
The 27-lap encounter saw Zarco engage in a battle with former teammate Pol Esparagaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), closing out the race in 13th position.
“The race was great,” Zarco stated. “I chose the soft rear because that was the only tyre I used all weekend and it would have been a shame to have no feeling during the race. At the start I had a good fight with many riders, overtaking them and them overtaking me, and then it was quite funny that the rider I was battling with for most of the race was KTM’s Pol Espargaro.
“We had a good fight, every time I thought I could get past him and move on to the group ahead, he attacked me again and we lost some time. I tried to beat him, but he did a good last lap and came out of the last corner better than me. I finished 13th which is ok, it was good to come back and it’s always a tough race here at Phillip Island.”
Zarco has just two more chances to race aboard the Honda, as the MotoGP World Championship heads to Sepang this weekend for the penultimate round.