“Where do I start after that? Let’s see … it was dry, I led, it rained, I fell back, I went off in the gravel and just about kept it upright, I sped coming into the pit lane, I did two long-lap penalties, I got back to the front, it dried, the wind picked up like a hurricane and I was on the wrong tyre. And then I win, I’m on the podium with two French riders, there’s nobody in the Le Mans stands and I’ve won two races in two weeks.
“If your head is spinning after reading that, how do you reckon mine is?! There’s some other stuff I’ve probably forgotten too. It’s probably not the best word, but ‘hectic’ is one way to describe it. Back-to-back wins, just fantastic. Somebody pinch me, because I must be dreaming …
“I had good pace all weekend no matter what the weather was doing (and it did a lot), so I just wanted to get out in front off the start, and then manage things even if someone went back past – just tag onto them and see where the pace went. I did that and it was all going to plan … and then the rain came four laps in! Then when it really bucketed down, both me and (Fabio) Quartararo buttoned off and it was then that I nearly lost it, so I just aimed for the gravel at Turn 11 as I figured there’d be some grip in there! That was pretty hairy.
“Once I got back out after the bike swap and did my long-lap penalties for speeding coming into the pit lane, I knew there was a long race ahead and I had time to get back up there. Didn’t have to do it all at once, just keep my head. The first sector, Turn 1, I knew I had the pace there compared to Fabio. So, no need to panic, just had to keep my composure … I eventually got back to the front with more than half the race left, 14 laps … and she was a long old 14 laps from there, let me tell you. I was able to ride my own race from there though, and here we are again.
“I’ve now won a completely wet race in Assen 2016, a completely dry one at Jerez last time, and now a flag-to-flag one here. Any win in MotoGP feels fantastic but flag-to-flag … I don’t want to say it’s the most stressful because Jerez was pretty stressful, being at the front and being chased down, but this feels different. You don’t feel physically exhausted, but I think I speak for all the riders in that you feel a little bit mentally exhausted because of the focus it takes, and the feeling of trying to predict what conditions you’ll find at the next corner, corner after corner, lap after lap. It’s a more mentally draining way to win. Flag-to-flag is a cool element of our sport and it’s not that enjoyable at the time because of the stress, but it’s better than red-flagging a race every time it rains and sitting around waiting to get started again.
“So what’s changed since it was all going so bad the first few races? My confidence now is up for sure, and it’s just momentum, keeping the ball rolling. Generally in my career I get stronger the longer the season goes on, so that’s what happening here. I’m not worrying about my arm, and one thing I did after Jerez was keep up my training like I’m losing rather than winning … so let’s not change a formula that’s working.
“I’d be stoked just to be on the podium in the next race at Mugello for Ducati – this is the best Ducati I’ve ridden, for sure. For me they’re the hardest-working manufacturer there is, so I’m proud to bring these results back to them.
“Le Mans is definitely a place with mixed emotions for me, I described it as a bit of a love-hate thing even before this weekend started, and you can see why. I won Moto3 here in 2014 in a big old brawl at the front, had a couple of crashes the first MotoGP races I did, had that huge crash at the chicane that nearly killed me in 2017, and then looked on for a podium last year before the bike cut out. So, some super big highs and pretty deep lows; let’s say I wasn’t the best company after the race here last year! After this one – it’s good we’re not testing here tomorrow like we were after Jerez, let’s say …”
Johann Zarco – P2
“I am ecstatic. It was a very complicated race as the weather has been unpredictable since Friday. Nonetheless, we worked worked well and today we had an amazing race. I had a bad start, but I managed to recover and we had an incredible race. A podium at home is a very special thing.”
Fabio Quartararo – P3
“This was the strangest race of my life. I had never done a flag-to-flag race before. We were so fast on slicks before it started to rain. I saw that Maverick and Jack were a little bit careful in the first corners and I said, ’Okay, I want to go for it‘. But then I got to Turn 9 where it was raining a lot, and without braking the bike was going right-left-right-left. I thought, ’If I manage to arrive at the box like this, that in itself would be great‘. I did arrive there at the perfect time, but then I almost wanted to go into Bastianini‘s box before pulling into my own box. Then I almost took Maverick‘s bike, it was a mess! But to take a podium in these circumstances is amazing. I never expected it in these mixed conditions. I don‘t really care about the lead in the championship, because there are 14 more races to go, but it‘s still good because it means we are doing a great job. Looking at the conditions we had today, I was scared to lose positions, but we gained one. In the next few races we need to focus and take it step by step.”
Francesco Bagnaia – P4
“I got a bad start and made a mistake on the first lap, going wide at Turn 6. Then, there was the flag-to-flag: it was the first time for me! It wasn’t easy, but in a way, I enjoyed it. In the beginning, I didn’t feel completely comfortable on the bike, but in the wet, I was able to find my rhythm right away. Finishing fourth in these conditions is a really good result, also considering that last year I was very slow in the rain. Now I am second in the Championship, just one point behind Quartararo, so I’m delighted”.
Danilo Petrucci – P5
“I’m very, very happy about this race! I made a small mistake while swapping the bikes as I didn’t put in the first gear, which made me lose some positions. Then it was really easy to make mistakes, when we rejoined the race with wet tires. Anyway, a top five is always very good. We are starting to get more used to the bike. For sure, I wanted to be on the podium but for this I have to be perfect and a bit faster. We surely need to improve our Qualifying but I’m happy.”
Álex Márquez – P6
“It was a good result. The race was really tricky, on the first few laps I was on dry, but then I started having some issues with the front brake and I was not feeling very good at that point. Then it started raining, as our weather forecast expected, and we were clear we would go in and we recovered some positions with wet and slicks. We put on a soft rear tyre that gave me better feeling on the first laps, but then I was struggling on the last ones when the track went really dry. Apart from that, we can be quite happy, this Sunday helps to build our confidence and we can go to Mugello 100% confident.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P7
“It was a very tough race. I’m happy as it was my first experience of a flag-to-flag race, it was quite difficult, but I think we made a good decision to come in on lap two or three. After I changed the bike for full wet conditions with a rain tyre, it was difficult to keep good pace at the beginning of the wet conditions. After that I was P4 and then P3, but I knew in wet conditions we didn’t have a strong pace. At the end I dropped to P7, I’m a little bit disappointed about the result, but happy about our performance in the race. We were very strong in dry conditions at the start of the race, we were able to fight with Marc (Márquez) so there were many positive points. I would like to thanks my team. I’m really looking forward to Mugello for the team’s home GP. It’s one of my favourite tracks and I have great confidence about the race.”
Pol Espargaro – P8
“It was a very complicated race today. If you’re strong in one condition but not the other in Le Mans it can be like this because often the race is in the middle of conditions. Today we had really good speed in the dry, we showed it throughout the weekend in the dry sessions where we were in the top five. I’m not happy with the result of the race because we struggled in the wet, but on the other hand you’re satisfied to finish a crazy race like this. I think our result would have been much better in the dry, but this is how it is. I think it’s important to look at the positives this weekend because we were strong in the dry and we finished a race where it was very easy to make a mistake.”
Iker Lecuona – P9
“Honestly, I’m really happy. I felt very strong all weekend in wet and dry conditions, I felt fast and finished closed to the top ten in each session. On the first laps, I overtook many riders, then the rain came and I went to the pitlane.Unfortunately, I didn’t bring enough heat into the tyres when I went out again, I made a mistake, went to the gravel, but picked up the bike again fast. I was only P17, but started to focus again and finally, I could overtake a rider in the last corner of the last lap. I’m very happy and want to thank my team, because they helped me a lot. I’m sorry for the mistake but I learned a lot and finished again in the top ten.”
Maverick Vinales – P10
“Today it was very clear that, if we had dry conditions, I would have had the opportunity to win the race. I started well from second place and took the lead. I felt incredible on the bike. I hadn‘t had that feeling since the Qatar GP, and I understood very well in that moment that I could win the race. But then after two laps it started to rain, and I just lost my concentration because I was so disappointed. I made a mistake and went wide, and I lost too much time. I was very slow for two laps and I couldn‘t do anything. But looking at the positives, it was very important for me to start well here today. It‘s been a while since I did a good start and took the lead on the first lap. We know we have good potential for Mugello.”
Valentino Rossi – P11
“This weekend has been a positive one, compared to the previous races so far this year. We were able to confirm the improvements made during the test at Jerez, so I feel better with the bike. I have been able to fight for better positions and be within the top-ten. It’s a shame that we had the conditions we did today because I was competitive in the wet and not so bad in the dry, but I suffered in the mixed conditions. The race was confusing and difficult, but it is Le Mans and has been like this since Friday. Maybe I could have done better with the medium rain tyres, but it’s easy to say this after the race. I’m looking forward to being in Mugello next, although it is a shame that there will be no fans because they are always great there.”
“A good weekend I’m happy because here at Le Mans I always fight. We did a good job with the whole team, we made very few mistakes and made the right decisions. Closing a GP like this in the points is always positive and we can say that we have achieved the objective. I collected a lot of information, a crazy race that I enjoyed. It wasn’t easy, even the best mistakes made and I’m happy. In electronics we managed to take a beautiful step, the bike and the maps were perfect today. Maybe I could have finished faster, but I had never tried the M tire this weekend and didn’t know where the limit was. At first I felt like I was on ice, then I started to feel better and managed. With more experience and a good preparation with the whole team we can go further. We are few, but good!”
Brad Binder – P13
“A crazy race today. I had some problems at the start and ended up last into Turn 1. I managed to get past a few guys but then a few laps into the race we saw really dark clouds and some rain spots. It then really started pouring as we went through Turn 3. It was hard to get back to the pitlane because there was no grip at all. It was pretty dangerous. Starting again on wet tires the grip was the worst we’ve had in the wet all weekend. It was my first flag-to-flag. A difficult race, a difficult weekend. I was glad to finish but not the position we wanted.”
Enea Bastianini – P14
“A very strange race. In the dry we were going quite well I was happy on the first lap I was increasing the pace, then it started to rain and I went off the track before the bike change and I lost a lot of time and I entered very late to change the bike. After the first lap with the water tires, I couldn’t get the tires to warm up, but when the water decreased it was much better and at the end it was very strong like the first 5. we will do better.”
Tito Rabat – P15
“I am happy. The weather conditions were extremely complicated. Regardless of this, we managed to bring home a point and I feel satisfied. Again, a big thanks to the whole team.”
Franco Morbidelli – P16
“Unfortunately I had a crash in the gravel on the first lap and my knee isn’t in the best shape at the moment and it twisted again when I went to put my weight on it. When I saw it was raining I decided to return to the pitbox, so thank you to the team for helping me to push the bike back. I restarted the race with the hope of picking up some points, but it was not possible. We were close though and I wanted to show my appreciation to the team. I will now get some treatment on my knee, to make sure that we arrive at Mugello in the best shape possible. I’m looking forward to going back and I hope that our bike continues to go well there and we will see what happens.”
Marc Marquez – DNF
“I’m disappointed with today, we weren’t able to profit from the special situation where normally we feel really comfortable. The positive is that we showed our speed today, even after the crash I was able to be fast on the bike. It’s true that we didn’t use the opportunity that the weather gave to us. The first crash we had can happen in the wet, maybe the tyre was a little cold, but I am more disappointed with the second crash. It was not the time to crash again but we keep learning. Maybe I wasn’t fully concentrated on the track conditions, I was thinking more about changing back to slicks and I arrived at Turn 6 too fast and fell. This is very disappointing. In a normal dry weekend, I know it would be harder, we’re happy with our performance of the weekend but not happy about Sunday because it was not the best Marc on track.”
Aleix Espargaro – DNF
“We missed a great opportunity today where we could have racked up important points against our rivals. The first 5-6 spots were well within my reach, partly because after the bike change, I really felt fast and capable of managing the race. I hope this is just a fluke problem, because the competitive level we have demonstrated even on a complicated weekend like this one is definitely promising.”
Lorenzo Savadori – DNF
“I lost a bit of ground at the start due to contact with another rider. Then, when the rain came, I changed bikes and immediately tried to narrow the gap. I was succeeding and lapping well, but a technical problem forced me to retire. In any case, it was an important weekend for me. I tackled these conditions for the first time in MotoGP and continued growing. The latter is still my main objective.”
Joan Mir – DNF
“I’m really disappointed, I didn’t expect that crash. Even though there was a lot of rain on the track, it was so unpredictable – I was with the slicks but I wasn’t pushing, I was just going to the box and it was a surprise when I lost the bike. With all the adrenaline running through me I made a mistake; I saw that the bike had shut down and the engine wasn’t running, so I started to run to the pit box without thinking. Today was my first flag to flag experience, so I will learn from everything that happened. Despite everything I felt good and I had good potential, and even in the wet warm-up I felt strong. But this is racing and sometimes it doesn’t work out. I’ll keep my head up and prepare for Mugello.”
Alex Rins – DNF
“It was a big shame that the heavy rain came, because I was saying to my team and my staff yesterday that in the dry I could finish on the podium. I made a perfect start and put in good laps at the beginning, but then when it started to rain it was a big risk because the track was really wet. Coming out of pit lane and into Turn 4 I tried to use a little bit of front brake to help me turn but it turned out to be a mistake as I lost the front. Then I changed the bike again so that I could rejoin. This bike had wet tyres but the set-up was still for dry conditions and so it was very unsettled and reactive, very difficult to ride, then I lost the front and crashed again. Obviously I’m disappointed but there’s nothing more I can do, I was glad to have strong pace in the dry and I got into podium contention really quickly. I’ll keep working and look forward to the next races, I’m strong and the bike is strong, I’m sorry for the team that today has been another DNF but we will pick ourselves up.”
Miguel Oliveira – DNF
“A shame for the whole team not to finish the race today. We were strong and had the capability to get close to the podium. Now we will move on and think about the next Grand Prix.”
MotoGP Team Managers
Luigi Dall’Igna – Ducati Corse General Manager
“It was another great day! I’m happy because we have two really great riders this year! Both Jack and Pecco did an incredible race, and we could have taken first, second and third today. We just need to see what happened in the pit lane when we exceeded the speed limit during the flag to flag.Congratulations also to Zarco for another extraordinary podium”.
Massimo Meregalli – Monster Yamaha Team Director
“Like predicted, we were completely at the mercy of the weather today, and in the end we had almost every condition imaginable. I think Fabio did a really good job adapting from dry to wet to mixed conditions, especially taking into consideration how we started this weekend in the wet and that he had never done a flag-to-flag race before. He has made great progress in changeable conditions these last few days, and to do it only a week after his surgery is all the more impressive. It‘s such a shame it rained, though, also for Maverick. He had a good start, and his pace on the first laps was actually really remarkable. It‘s a pity he lost his concentration when it started to rain and he went wide. It also didn’t help that the soft-soft rain tyres put him at a disadvantage when suddenly a dry line started to form with about ten more laps to go. All in all, it‘s been a very tricky weekend for everyone, and this race was a bit of a lottery. But what we got out of this GP is that our pace in the dry is very strong, so this gives us some extra motivation for Mugello, which can be quite a tough track.”
Razlan Razali – Petronas SRT Team Principal
“That was one difficult, unusual and complicated weekend! It wasn’t the best MotoGP race for us overall. Valentino was on the pace and was just inside the top-ten mid-race, but after that his pace dropped off a bit. We also had Franco crashing out within the first lap. Although he continued hoping to get some points, he unfortunately finished 16th. The most important thing now is to make sure that his knee is okay for the next round at Mugello.”
Shinichi Sahara – Suzuki Project Leader
“Today we suffered as a result of the conditions, and we gained zero points. It’s a strange feeling to come away with two DNFs because we knew that our riders could be very competitive, despite the grid positions, in the dry and also in the wet. However, although today didn’t work out as we’d hoped, we are actually feeling very positive about the next races and for this reason we are not too disappointed. Both riders are OK after their crashes, and we know what they’re capable of in the future.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“It’s been a tough day for Suzuki because neither of our riders could score points, and it’s such a shame. Normally this track isn’t one of our best, and today’s result aside, our performance has actually improved quite a lot compared to last year and we feel much better here. So, there are some positives to take from the situation. Luckily Alex and Joan are fine and they have no injuries, which is also important. Mugello is the next stop, and with its fast corners and technical sections it’s a circuit where we feel quite confident.”
Mike Leitner, – Red Bull KTM Race Manager
“A very turbulent race and difficult to find the right time for the guys to come in and change bikes. It was hectic and a big mix. Danilo went out in a good position and worked his way through the top ten. Miguel’s crash at Turn 3 was unexpected but these races can produce surprises and we cannot be too down for him because he’d had a good weekend. Well done to Tech3 KTM Factory Racing for getting both riders in the top ten and Danilo making our second highest finish of the season. I’m so happy for him and the crew. Iker did well also to fight up until the last corner. We couldn’t ask for more. Brad scored points for 13th but we’d normally like to see him in a different position: we know we have to work with him for the wet conditions. With so many changing circumstances it was a demanding weekend so I want to say thank you to both teams and all the staff for the big effort here in France.”
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 KTM Team Manager
“Fantastic end of the weekend here in Le Mans for the French Grand Prix. It’s been a tough week, but I have to say that hard work always pays off. We were pretty sure that there would be a shower through the race, so we got ready for the flag to flag procedure. We decided for both, Danilo and Iker to go out with the hardest compound available, which was medium front and rear and although it was a bit tough in the first few laps, because it was very wet and very cold, I think it payed off in the end.”
“We were rewarded with our choice and could see that both, Danilo and Iker managed to catch a lot of riders and to finish first two KTMs is a great pride and a great honor. This is a good message we want to pass to all the KTM fans throughout France. Also, there is a little bit of ‘clin d’œil’, as we say in French, which is that today we finished P5 and P9 in Moto3 and P5 and P9 in MotoGP. So, I think this is something funny and interesting and is showing that the both teams work hard and got the same kind of result.”
“I want to congratulate Danilo of course for his never give up attitude. He could understand that there was a chance after he topped the time sheets in this morning Warm Up. There was a chance for him to do something well. We told him on the grid to be ready for the flag to flag and stay focused and this is what he did. I want to congratulate him, another great result here in Le Mans for Danilo.”
“Something, I also would like to explain is; Iker was really good in the first part of the race, had a great flag to flag procedure, exited the pits in a very strong position, I think inside the top 10. What we didn’t notice, as it was not shown on tv, is that Iker crashed on his out lap on rain tyres, but managed to pick up the bike and come back from the bottom of the field to ninth position, passing both, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales in the last lap, which is quite an achievement. Great job, great fighting spirit shown by Iker also.”
“Thank you for the hard work by the technical crew for both sides of the garage, great effort from Danilo and Iker! Let’s have a weekend off and repeat this in Mugello!”
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