Johann Zarco has went from hero to zero in the opening MotoGP race of his career in the premiere class, setting an impressive precedent by leading for six laps before crashing out of the lead.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider set a blistering pace at the front after making his way through to the lead in the opening corners with a series of aggressive overtakes – but it was too much too soon for the Frenchman after a lack of experience caught him out on lap seven.
"Despite the end result, I am happy and it was so good to lead the field in my first race. This morning, we had a longer warm up because there wasn’t any action on Saturday. The track was not perfect, but my feeling was very strong and my grid position, which was 4th, was close to the top. Just before the start, the procedure was disrupted because it rained twice and there was a delay.
“When the GP finally commenced, I was focused and I could see that I was not far from first so I wanted to take the opportunity to do well. I know that my starts are strong and I overtook some good riders at the first corner and I then got into a consistent rhythm. I kept pushing but on the sixth lap, I decided to relax, and maybe I went off the racing line a little bit and then I fell at the second corner.
“This is a shame but we are always on the limit and I still need to learn the category so this kind of mistake is part of my lesson as a rookie in MotoGP. I am happy in the end, it’s a pity about the result but it’s important for my confidence and I am excited for the Argentina round."
Further behind, teammate and fellow MotoGP rookie Jonas Folger had an impressive debut on the M1 as well, coming home to a more sedate 10th place but getting valuable points on the board.
"I am happy to finish my first MotoGP race inside the top ten but I still have a lot to learn for the future. The last part of the GP was good and I was able to recover well. However, the conditions were not great at the beginning, because of the rain as well as the waiting and this made me a bit nervous.
“Anyway, I have to take all the positives from this round and focus on the next event. I know that I need to work on myself more and also with the team so that we can go quicker at the beginning of the next GP and I can hold my qualifying position. I think that we have a solid pace, and now we know where I have to improve so I am confident for Argentina and I’m looking forward to the challenge."