Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo celebrated today‘s third place as a win, having overcome his wet-conditions Achilles heel and returning to the podium a week after his surgery for Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome (CECS or ’arm pump‘). Maverick Viñales showed incredible pace early on, leading the race. However, sudden rain spoiled his plans. He wrapped up the French GP in tenth place.
As the Factory Yamaha riders lined up on the first row of the starting grid for the Grand Prix de France, dark clouds were looming above the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. It was an ominous sign that predicted a difficult and at times even dangerous race.
Quartararo started his first flag-to-flag race from pole and slotted into third place after the opening corners. That wasn‘t enough for the home hero, however. He took on his teammate and Jack Miller, and was soon in the lead, but then drama struck. Rain started pouring down, and with 22 laps to go, the Frenchman was leading the way into pit lane for a bike swap, to return to the track in third position.
With the two riders in front of him crashing out and with 20 laps to go, El Diablo was in the lead again, but not for long. Four laps later he had to let Miller through and was handed a long-lap penalty for a wrong bike swap because he didn‘t pull into the garage at the correct spot. He executed the penalty smoothly and remained in second place. It looked like it would be a lonely ride for the Yamaha man, but with a dry line forming in the latter stages of the race, his soft front rain tyre started to drop. With six laps remaining, he also had to let Johann Zarco pass, but he was still happy to take a third-place podium, 14.468s from first, in very tricky conditions.
Viñales had a good start from second place, keeping his position in the first corners, and got himself in the mix for the lead with Quartararo and Miller. He led the race early on but had to ease off after a few laps when rain started to fall. He went wide and dropped back to fifth, but safely negotiated his way back to the pits and rejoined the race on his ’wet bike‘ in ninth place.
The Spaniard struggled to find the same feeling in the wet, and matters weren‘t helped when a dry line started to form, overheating his soft-soft rain tyres. Still, the number-12 rider kept pushing for a top-10 finish. He remained in ninth place for most of the race but crossed the line in tenth, 40.577s from the race leader.
Thanks to today‘s results, Quartararo regains the lead in the championship standings with an 80 points total and a 1-point lead over the rider in second place. Viñales is now in fifth, with a 56 points total, Yamaha is second in the Constructor championship with a 107 points total, and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team is also second with 136 points.
The next MotoGP race weekend is scheduled to take place in Italy at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello from 28th - 30th May 2021.