From the first lap of the first race of the 2017 MotoGP season at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco was clearly something special. The soft-spoken, mercurial Frenchman is at once cerebral with an uncannily aggressive-yet-smooth, tire-saving riding style that makes him a unique figure in the paddock.

Not only did Zarco garner three podiums and win the award for rookie of the year, but he finished the season as the top independent rider. This consistency, which helped him achieve back-to-back Moto2 titles, was coming to fore by season’s end when he had four front-row starts in the final four races, including a pole at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

Zarco finished ahead of the two factory Movistar Yamaha teammates, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi, in no fewer than four races, which will consternate Yamaha HQ as it tries to figure out how to win the 2018 MotoGP title.

Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Grand Prix of QatarMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Grand Premio Motul de la Republica ArgentinaMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Red Bull Grand Prix of The AmericasMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premio Red Bull de EspañaMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
HJC Helmets Grand Prix de FranceMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premio d'Italia OakleyMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premi Monster Energy de CatalunyaMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Motul TT AssenMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix DeutschlandMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Monster Energy Grand Prix České republikyMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Motorrad Grand Prix von ÖsterreichMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Octo British Grand PrixMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di RiminiMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premio Movistar de AragónMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Motul Grand Prix of JapanMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Australian Motorcycle Grand PrixMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand PrixMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha
Johann Zarco, Yamaha, Tech 3, MotoGP
Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat ValencianaMonster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha