Johann Zarco says he will not allow his MotoGP career trajectory to be determined by whether Valentino Rossi opts to retire at the end of 2018.
After an impressive rookie season at the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha squad, Zarco is expected to be one of the hot properties in this year’s rider market – and is thought a strong candidate to move up to the works team should 38-year-old Rossi call time on his grand prix career.
However, he has also been linked to a possible move to KTM, while Suzuki is another factory team thought to be interested in securing the Frenchman’s services for 2019.
In light of that, Zarco made it clear in a recent interview with French newspaper L’Equipe that he will not allow Rossi’s decision to determine his fate.
“Yamaha is waiting for Rossi’s decision,” Zarco said. “It’s up to me to convince them [to sign me] by finishing races ahead of the two factory riders.
“In any case, my career will not depend on the decisions of Valentino.
“The idea is to start 2018 how I finished 2017, by fighting for the win in every race, to maintain this level of competitiveness over 19 races and obtain a championship position that will allow me to get a factory bike in 2019.”
Zarco to race '17 bike
Having used the 2016 version of Yamaha’s M1 to good effect last year, Zarco tested the troubled 2017 machine at the end of last year at both Valencia and Sepang.
The 27-year-old has now clarified this is the bike he will use next year, despite suggestions he could be offered the latest-spec 2018 bike that Rossi and Maverick Vinales will use.
“Tech 3 is the Yamaha satellite team that always uses the bike from the previous year, so this season I will use the 2017 version of the M1,” Zarco added.
“If I’m smart and I extract the maximum from the bike, I will not be far from the first three in the championship. That’s my goal.”