Fabio Quartararo returned to the MotoGP podium this weekend, braving the ever-changing conditions to take third place in a chaotic French Grand Prix at the Le Mans Circuit.
A heroic effort in qualifying saw Quartararo head a Monster Energy Yamaha one-two on the grid but come race day a new challenge was ahead with dark clouds hanging ominously over the Le Mans Bugatti circuit. It was the YZR-M1 of Maverick Viñales who took the early advantage, leading in the early stages, but Quartararo was on a charge as he made his way into the lead on lap three. However, drama was ahead as the rain started to fall.
Deciding to pit for his first MotoGP flag-to-flag pit stop at the end of lap five, the Frenchman emerged back on track with the wet tyres fitted in second place with Viñales eighth.
Quartararo returned to the lead on lap nine but was later penalised with a long lap penalty for stopping in Vinales' pit box when swapping machines. Taking it like a champion, the 21-year-old completed the penalty cleanly and continued in second.
Conditions would change yet again towards the end of the race with the track rapidly drying. Quartararo lost out on second to countryman Johan Zarco in the closing stages, crossing the line in third 14 seconds behind the winner. After a solid start to the race, Maverick Viñales ended in tenth place, collecting six valuable points for his championship quest.
The Petronas Yamaha SRT riders endured mixed fortunes in the challenging conditions. Franco Morbidelli fell victim to an opening lap crash while fighting for positions, before re-mounting and finishing 16th, while Valentino Rossi, who started the Grand Prix ninth, fought his way up to seventh before slipping back to 13th after getting caught up in the same incident as Morbidelli. After the flag-to-flag stop, Rossi remained in contention for the top ten, crossing the line 11th at the end of the race.
Quartararo’s third-place finish sees him re-take the championship lead, sitting one point ahead of Francesco Bagnaia. Yamaha is now second in the constructors’ table and teams’ championship.
MotoGP is back in action in two weeks for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello held across 28-30th May.
Shark Grand Prix of France Race Results
1. Jack Miller - Ducati Lenovo Team
2. Johann Zarco - Pramac Racing +3.970
3. Fabio Quartararo - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +14.468
4. Francesco Bagnaia - Ducati Lenovo Team +16.172
5. Danilo Petrucci - Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing +21.430
6. Alex Marquez - LCR Honda CASTROL +23.509
7. Takaaki Nakagami - LCR Honda IDEMITSU +30.164
8. Pol Espargaro - Repsol Honda Team +35.221
9. Iker Lecuona - Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing +40.432
10. Maverick Viñales - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +40.577
11. Valentino Rossi - Petronas Yamaha SRT +42.198
12. Luca Marini - SKY VR46 Avintia +52.408
13. Brad Binder - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +59.377
14. Enea Bastianini - Avintia Esponsorama +1’02.224
15. Tito Rabat - Pramac Racing +1’09.651
16. Franco Morbidelli - Petronas Yamaha SRT + 4 laps
NC. Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda Team +10 laps
NC. Aleix Espargaro - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +12 laps
NC. Miguel Oliveira - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +15 laps
NC. Alex Rins - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +15 laps
NC. Lorenzo Savadori - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +16 laps
NC. Joan Mir - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +23 laps
2021 MotoGP World Championship Standings
1. Fabio Quartararo - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 80 points
2. Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team 79 points
3. Johann Zarco – Pramac Racing Ducati 68 points
4. Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team 64 points
5. Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 56 points
6. Joan Mir – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 49 points
7. Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 35 points
8. Franco Morbidelli – PETRONAS Yamaha SRT 33 points
9. Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda IDEMITSU 28 points
10. Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team 25 points
11. Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 24 points
12. Alex Rins – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 23 points
13. Enea Bastianini – Avintia Esponsorama 20 points
14. Alex Marquez – LCR Honda CASTROL 18 points
15. Jorge Martin – Pramac Racing Ducati 17 points
16. Danilo Petrucci – Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing 16 points
17. Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team 16 points
18. Stefan Bradl – Honda HRC 11 points
19. Valentino Rossi – PETRONAS Yamaha SRT 9 points
20. Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 9 points
21. Luca Marini - SKY VR46 Avintia 9 points
22. Iker Lecuona – Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing 8 points
23. Lorenzo Savadori – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2 points
24. Tito Rabat – Pramac Racing Ducati 1 point