Johann Zarco commenced the season with a breathtaking performance at the Losail International Circuit. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider was shining brighter than the floodlights in the first 17 of 22 laps with a superior lead during the first MotoGP round of the year. Struggling with his tyres, the French star had to give the top away towards the end to eventually finish in 8th position.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin was 17th after the first lap of his first ever premier class race and bravely fought with partly much more experienced riders to cross the line in 14th. Therewith, the talented rookie brought home the first ever MotoGP points for his native country Malaysia.
Position: 8th - Championship: 8th - Points: 8
“I had a nice weekend! The race has been good. To start from pole position was a great feeling and a good opportunity to take to fight with the top guys. I had a good start and I took over the top, because I wanted to lead the race and then I was quite comfortable there, not able to be faster than the others, but nobody overtook me. I tried to control the rear grip well, to have always some possibilities to go out from the corner, which was working well. Then, seven laps to the end, I tried to push a bit more to maybe make a gap, but already during the race I had some limit feeling from the front, that I didn’t experience during the practice. When the other guys overtook me five laps to the end, I really understood, that I wasn’t able to use the front tyre on the right side anymore in the correct way, which is why I couldn’t fight. It was really difficult, a few times, I almost crashed and to finish eighth in the end, was better than nothing, because in this condition, it’s good to finish the race at all.”
Position: 14th - Championship: 14th - Points: 2
“I felt really good in the race. I want to say a huge thank you to my team, because they did a great job. I finished my first MotoGP race inside the points, which is even beyond my target, but when you put your focus and your motivation there, it is possible. Around seven laps to go, I changed the power of the bike and four laps later, I switched back again. It’s also a huge part of my learning curve to understand the electronics. I was a bit nervous in the race, I didn’t want to make any mistake and end up in the gravel. I finished the race and brought two points for the team, which makes me truly happy. I hope, I can improve more in the next race and I continue training hard in order to be more ready and give the challenge to the rest of the riders.”
“An amazing round one in Qatar for the MotoGP and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team! With the pole position, we were very pleased last night, but we knew, that the most difficult part was coming on race day. Honestly, I expected a tough fight, but I didn’t expect Johann to lead the race for the main time. He was looking quite comfortable. I can’t deny the fact, that I was starting to think that there is a possibility to finally win a race, but we could see, that he was struggling. We thought, that the tyres were the reason and he confirmed that. There was nothing he could do, just stick on the bike and hold on to the flag. Eight people were in the front group, which was quite close. Finally, it’s quite sad to end up last of that group, but on the other end, we have to be optimistic and see the glass half full and not half empty. There is a lot of positives. He’s here, he’s going to fight and I’m quite sure, that he’ll be again pushing for this victory, that is his and the whole team’s dream. On the other side of the garage, I think, we have to be more than happy, because Hafizh produced an unbelievable performance all through the weekend. His qualifying was great, although the start was not ideal. But it was his very first GP start and we told him, not to do any mistakes. So, he lost a few positions, but recovered. He was fighting hard with a lot of top guys and ended up with two points, which is an amazing performance. For sure, the improvement margin is huge, but anyway, big congratulations to him, big congratulations to Johann and the entire team, because everybody works really, really hard. This is not the end of the weekend, we would have hoped for, but we have to accept that this is part of the game and we have to focus now on having a rest and being ready for Argentina.”