MotoGP Le Mans: ‘Huge week’ for Zarco, ‘felt like a superstar’


Picture: GeeBee Images

Pramac’s Johann Zarco recovered from a three-place grid penalty to fifth in front of his home crowd at the FrenchGP.

Spurred on by the local, and loud support, the Frenchman crossed the line behind his fellow countryman Fabio Quartararo. Admitting after the flag that even without the sanction for his Q2 misdemeanour – which saw him slow on the racing line in front of Pol Espargaro’s hot lap – there was not much more in the tank in terms of results.

“That was a good race,” Zarco said on Sunday. “The best I can reach? Yes, maybe, because even if I could have a better start, I think would have been a tough race because still something was missing in my pace.

“Pace was good enough for fifth position but I feel that I didn’t unlock everything to get faster and think about a victory or the podium today.

“I hope I will keep working hard with the team because I’m getting closer and we are growing up on the bike. But I see that I’m still not relaxed 100 per cent, so when this will come, I will really enjoy much more.”

Sunday’s 27-lap race saw Zarco tangle with Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder in the opening stages, with the South African losing a wing in the process.

“I didn’t know it was Brad,” the Frenchman confessed. “I thought it was Jorge Martin because I just overtook him before but then I got big overtaking in entry of the chicane but I went a bit wide, Fabio and Nakagami over took me back. Then in turn six I tried to use a tight line to go inside Nakagami but using this tight line I think Brad has been surprised – because he is the kind of rider to go quite fast into the corner and then turn quite wide. So I think he has been surprised like this and touch me but I didn’t crash and that was the main thing. Him either then the bike wasn’t any damage on it so was good to continue the race.”

Le Mans welcomed a 110,000 strong crowd for race day with significant numbers across the weekend, a first at the Bugatti Circuit since before the pandemic and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“Huge week, huge week since Thursday,” Zarco commented. “A lot of people, a lot of crowd around the track that you feel like a superstar because you cannot go nowhere. They are all screaming your name. They all want a picture or an autograph. So that’s a nice energy.

“But you feel at the end of the weekend that has been a nice energy from them but also they took some of your energy. Finished the race with the top five, even for Fabio with the P4, I think we feel relaxed and we will use the next week before Mugello race to recover at 100 per cent and feel even stronger for the next races.”

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