Johann Zarco delivered a sublime performance today at the legendary Le Mans circuit to storm to a maiden premier class podium in the memorable round 5 fight. The home hero began the sprint from 3rd on the grid and quickly surged to the front of the highly competitive field for the opening six laps. After fearlessly dicing with the leaders, the MotoGP rookie met the chequered flag in 2nd to sweeten Yamaha’s 500th Grand Prix win, with the race being won by Maverick Vińales.
Meanwhile, Jonas Folger powered to 7th at the Monster Yamaha Tech3 home GP where he delivered a solid comeback charge after a tricky start. The young German fell back to 17th at the beginning, but stuck into a formidable pace and posted lap times which were comparable to his teammate at the end of the Grand Prix. The solid finish leaves Folger confident ahead of the next round at Mugello.
Position: 2nd - Championship: 5th - Points: 55
"The result feels so good and there are many words that I could use, but today has been just great. The conditions were perfect for me in the race with the soft tyre and it was fantastic that I was able to run the pace that I did and to also lead a GP again. I had one flashback of Qatar in my mind, yet, everything was better here than there! Vińales passed me on the 7th lap and from that moment I was just happy to stay with him, and he was fast, but I think that this was the key for me to getting the podium. Rossi was also strong, but it’s a bit complicated to fight in Le Mans because the track is tight, so I was thinking that even though 3rd at the time was fantastic, if they fight like that, maybe something will happen and I can get a better position, and this came true. My result is super and it was so much fun today. The crowd made a lot of noise and there was positive energy. I didn’t feel it at the time, but now I realise that they brought me to the top and now I need to enjoy this moment. I’m a rookie and I am not looking at the Championship and the most important thing is to finish races and collect points, and today I got 20, which is fantastic. I am living in the present and enjoying every round, so if this 2nd place gives me a good advantage in the standing, then I will take it."
Position: 7th - Championship: 9th - Points: 38
"In the end, it was a positive day, but especially for Johann who finished in 2nd and I am really happy for him. As for my side of the garage, we struggled yesterday and I qualified on the fifth row. However, we knew that my pace was good and better than 15th. The race was hard at the beginning because I was further back than where I wanted to be and it was not easy to overtake or build up a rhythm quickly. Yet, once I started running a good rhythm, I posted some really solid lap times. Now, I need to work on myself and analyse what I can do differently to avoid making mistakes like this, where I start from the middle of the field. I have to be stronger throughout the weekend and improve my pace in the first part of the Grand Prix, but overall I am pleased, we took some important points and the weekend ended in a positive way."
"Finally the French GP is over and like anyone can imagine, I was emotional as well as a bit nervous, but I’m sure that Johann was too! In the end, the race went better than anything we could have dreamed of. Johann had an unreal start, as usual, and ran an superb pace in the first six laps. He was running at the front and on his own, and that is a feeling that much be incredible for a rider. I must admit that we were slightly worried because we decided to use the soft front and rear tyres for both riders, and our main opponents, Factory Yamaha, used the medium compounds. We didn’t experience a high track temperature throughout the whole weekend until today, so we were going into the unknown for the second part of the GP. When Maverick passed Johann, I was a bit relieved, because I thought that our rider would follow Maverick to see where he was quicker, how the tyres compare and whether he could stay with him or let him go. After two-thirds of the distance was completed, things were looking good because the gap back to 4th was increasing and even though Valentino was close to Johann, the possibility of a podium was really increasing with every lap. Valentino, who was very fast in the second part of the sprint, passed Johann and our man didn’t try to challenge him as he just wanted to bring the bike home and get his maiden podium. As everyone knows, there was an incredible battle at the front and it was very unfortunate that Valentino crashed because it would have been a dream to have an all-Yamaha podium for their 500th Grand Prix win. Tonight we are happy because we have the celebration of the Yamaha milestone and there will be an extra nice feeling because of Johann’s podium, but I am sorry for Valentino’s outcome. On Jonas’ side, he recovered well but I have to admit that I am a little bit disappointed. In the second half of the fight, he was posting really solid times as he matched Johann’s pace, plus he was even a bit quicker at some points. Yet, at the beginning, he lost too much time and we have seen this in a few races already. However, the speed is there but we now have to work to find solutions for him. Thanks to both riders and the whole Monster Yamaha Tech3 crew, but especially to the fans who were amazing and it will be a weekend that we will never forget."