French MotoGP “strangest race of my life”

Quartararo led the field into the pit lane in the early stages of the race when the rain fell, but admitted he initially forgot the MotoGP flag-to-flag rule when conditions changed.

The Yamaha rider then received a long lap penalty for stopping in the wrong pit in the pit lane, but recovered from this and a lack of grip in the closing stages and finished third to take his first MotoGP podium in rainy weather.

After finishing an RP3 run in similar conditions in 19th place and battling it out in ninth place in the wet Le Mans race in 2020 after also starting from pole, Quartararo admitted he was this time “didn’t expect” to get on the podium at Le Mans.

“To be honest, it was the strangest race of my life because I was in P3, it started to rain and at the beginning Maverick [Vinales] and Jack [Miller] took it a little cautiously, ”he explained.

“I said ‘ok, I have to overtake’. I made a great overtaking maneuver in the chicane. When it started raining a lot, I said, “Why isn’t it a red flag?” go to’.

“I saw the white flag. At Turn 9 I almost lost the rear end because it was a massive difference.

“Well, I think the guys might get me through that. I took it carefully, I got the wrong bike, I would jump on Maverick [Vinales’] Bike then i just walked to my bike but it was a great experience.

“And above all, we didn’t expect to be on the podium in this condition.

“Well, I’m so happy and we took a step under these conditions.”

Building on his first flag-to-flag race, Quartararo added, “To be honest, it was so difficult and I’m making a small change in the warm-up.

“It was good because I made a lot of mistakes in the last two laps, but we were still there.

“But I never expected to end up in this position. When I saw that I had 20 laps left on the Soft / Soft and it dried out, I said ‘ok, we’re not in a great position’.

“Then I saw the gap with Taka [Nakagami] was big, then I saw that it was Johann [Zarco] but he was so fast and I think the tire combination he got from the middle of the race was better.

“Then it was [Francesco] Bagnaia, Alex Marquez, but I put a lot of pressure on because Bagnaia came so quickly. “

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That result comes just under two weeks after Quartararo underwent an arm pump operation that robbed him of victory in Jerez. The Yamaha rider now led the championship by one point again.

“It feels really good because when you think back to Jerez it’s a huge shame because I was there to win because I felt so great,” he added.

“And when you have this operation it was hard to accept, but then you say ‘ok, it happens’.

“We arrived here, immediately in dry conditions in FP2. I felt fine – a little pain.

“And in the race it is perhaps even better that we have this condition that we don’t do 27 laps at the limit.

“Well, honestly after the surgery and everything that is on the podium is amazing.”