Newly crowned Moto2 champion Johann Zarco said defending the intermediate class title this season was an 'obligation'. The Frenchman who is riding for the Ajo Motorsport team successfully defended his 2015 title.
The 26-year-old claimed his sixth victory of the season at Sepang. In 2015, he dominated the class but this year it was really hard for him. The champion was fighting with proven contenders like Alex Rins, Sam Lowes, Thomas Luthi and Franco Morbidelli.
For 2017, Zarco moves to the MotoGP class to join the Tech 3 Yamaha squad with another Moto2 graduate, Jonas Folger.
When asked about the pressure he handled to defend his title this year, Johann Zarco said, "Yes, it seems to be an obligation. In fact, I expected that after competing last year with Tito Rabat. That was why I wanted to continue with the number 5 on the fairing.
"For me, it was important to keep my feet on the ground. Anyway, I woke up every day thinking I had to win the title."
He also explained about how hard it was to win the title again, he added, "They always say that retaining the title is more difficult. Maybe it is especially the mental burden.
"But we've worked very hard over the past two years. This year there was a larger group of riders who have fought for the top positions: Luthi, Rins, Lowes, Morbidelli, Takaaki Nakagami etc.
"Also, I have not been so consistent and I have made mistakes. Last year I always had an important cushion in the overall standings, which helped me, but for me, it was the result of many years of previous work."