Johann Zarco showed his sublime talent by clinching his third consecutive front row start today in Malaysia. The rapid French rookie blazed to a lap time that left him first in the final moments of the thrilling session until he was pipped to pole by a mere 0.017. Nevertheless, the highly impressive result places him as the top Yamaha on the grid and tomorrow, he aims to close the flyaway races with a podium finish.

Meanwhile, stand-in rider Michael van der Mark will make his MotoGP debut from the 8th row on the grid after a determined performance today at the Sepang International circuit. His impressive performances throughout the weekend so far leave him confident for the main event, which begins at 15:00 local time, or 08:00 in central Europe.

Johann Zarco
Position 2nd - Time: 1'59.229 - Laps: 7

Johann Zarco - 2017“It is so important to start the Grand Prix on the front row of the grid, and I even expected pole position because I was in first for a small amount of time at the end of Qualifying 2. I am happy because to be fast on a single lap is a good thing, but my pace is very competitive, so if we have dry and warm conditions tomorrow, then I think I will be able to win the race if I manage everything well. We will see what happens with regards to the weather, but I am just delighted to have this confidence which allows me to push in this way and I have high hopes for the round 17 fight.”

Michael van der Mark
Position 22nd - Time: 2'02.376 - Laps: 5

Michael van der Mark - 2017"I am a bit disappointed with the qualifying result. This morning in FP3, we made quite a solid step but, position wise, it wasn't where I wanted to be, yet we have still made progress. In the afternoon, I had an issue with the rear grip and then, on the first lap, I struggled with the new tyre. On the second outing I felt better, but at turn five, I lost the front without warning. This is difficult to accept and I am sorry to the team as we were making steady progress in every session, but a crash is not what you want. The fall was due to a number of things and the track temperature was high, plus I don't have much experience of this. Everyone was fast and this morning, you can see that I was only two seconds from the top, which was good and promising. I was hoping to make another step to the group in front of me because there are only a few tenths away. Now, we need to work because the rear of the bike is spinning too much at the exit of the corners and that's the main factor to focus on. Anyway, tomorrow is race day, and I will gain a lot of experience but I hope I can fight with some riders and enjoy my time."

Johann Zarco leapt into action today in the searing heat at the Sepang International Circuit. The French star began the weekend with a strong run to 3rd in the opening shakedown on the wet but drying track. In the afternoon, the rain fell again, but Zarco powered onwards to complete FP2 in 11th. His morning time saw him conclude the day as the leading Yamaha rider, plus only 0.136 back from the top and he fully intends to continue the positive momentum tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark made his MotoGP debut today as he confidently began his work in Malaysia. The young Dutchman completed his first laps on the Yamaha YZR-M1 and impressed immediately as he diced with, and outpaced, some of the MotoGP regular riders. Van der Mark rounded out the day in 19th, and he will return to the track tomorrow at 09:55 local time, or 03:55 in central Europe, for FP3.

The entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team would like to send condolences to the friends and family of Moto2 team manager Stefan Kiefer, who tragically passed away last night in Malaysia.

Johann Zarco
Position 3rd - Time: 2'00.807 - Laps: 29

Johann Zarco - 2017“After the first day of action, I feel good even if I fell in FP2 this afternoon. The track was slippery and we had a small issue with the rear of the bike. It was starting to dry more and more but I pushed a bit too much and fell. Nevertheless, I am happy about the first practice. The conditions were tricky, but neither the team nor the riders knew if it was fully dry so we had to take it step by step. Yet, at the end of the session, it was totally clear and possible to push. Lap after lap the grip improved and my feeling was positive. In the end, I have finished Friday in 3rd so we can be pleased with our work on day 1 in Malaysia.”

Michael van der Mark
Position 19th - Time: 2'03.473 - Laps: 28

Michael van der Mark - 2017"It has been an amazing day. This morning the weather was not ideal so I had to wait for a bit before my first outing on the MotoGP bike. Then, when I took to the track, I immediately felt quite good and I was comfortable so this morning I stayed out and enjoyed the opening session. Then, in FP2, with the rain, I felt positive and I improved step by step. For my first day, it has been a great experience but the thing that I need to work on the most is the braking because, for me, this is the biggest difference between MotoGP and WorldSBK. The brakes are really powerful and it’s more difficult to find the limit of the braking point. I will focus on this, but tomorrow I hope we have some dry track time and I just want to enjoy and improve in every session. I think I can be very happy about my first day on the YZR-M1 and I want to keep progressing."

Team manager

“I would like to say that today, it doesn't matter what happened on the track and how good the performances of our riders were because it is a sad and dark day. Stefan Kiefer passed away last night, and we have lost a true friend, one of us and a very competitive team manager who won the Moto2 World Championship in 2011 with Stefan Bradl. He was full of passion and energy, and his death is a huge loss for all of us. I would like the whole paddock to remember him for the man he was.”

After a truly memorable performance in Australia, Johann Zarco aims to challenge for a podium finish in Malaysia to strengthen his attempt to complete the year as the Top Independent rider in the World Championship. Meanwhile, the WorldSBK front-runner Michael van der Mark will replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the round 17 event. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to warmly welcome the promising young Dutch rider, who will be making his MotoGP debut. The action begins this Friday at 09:55, or 03:55 in central Europe.

Johann Zarco
Championship: 6th - Points: 138

Johann Zarco - 2017“Sepang is a nice track, and I believe my experience after almost a full season, will be useful having tested there at the beginning of the year. The Australian GP was amazing and I am so happy about the feeling that I had on the bike in the race. Therefore, I hope to fight for the podium or even the victory again with the tops guys this weekend. The weather will be difficult as it is always so hot in Malaysia. This is why I need to prepare and manage myself well with the team and save my energy so that I can be strong in the GP. I will take it easy but I aim to battle for the podium once more.”

Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark - 2017"It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity."

Team manager

“After the crazy Phillip Island weekend, it’s good to know that we have a day and a half to recover because everyone is drained and we have no more energy! The team and I are looking forward to Sepang as you can imagine, after the unbelievable race that Johann had in Australia. He missed the podium by 0.016, which is something that was impressive but slightly disappointing. Sepang is a track that he likes a lot and it is where he won his second Moto2 title last year. We had some really encouraging tests there in the winter and we intend to carry on the momentum from the last round. I hope Johann can fight for the top five in qualifying as well as in the race and this will be important. One good thing, as we announced in Australia, is that he is now the MotoGP Rookie of the Year, which was his main mission for the 2017 season. The second objective now that we have to do, if possible, is to win the Top Independent rider position in the championship, but we realise that Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci will give us a hard time. We will work towards this. On the other side of the garage, once again we have a new rider that we are very proud and happy to announce. Michael van der Mark will replace Jonas for this race and he is a young and extremely talented rider from the Netherlands. Michael is part of the factory Yamaha WorldSBK team and he almost replaced Valentino at the Aragon GP, but it didn't happen for obvious reasons! Now he has a chance with us to see what the YZR-M1 is like and to show what he can do. He will have a strong teammate and an experienced crew so I am sure that he can make the best out of it. I hope that he will gain a sweet memory from his time with us by getting a good result on Sunday. Sepang is a track that he knows, having ridden there in the WorldSBK league, so we want to welcome him to Monster Yamaha Tech3 and let's see what happens.”


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