Zarco had Qatar crash flashbacks while leading at Le Mans

MotoGP star rookie Johann Zarco admits he had a flashback to his crash out of the lead in Qatar during his stint at the front of his home race at Le Mans.

Zarco had Qatar crash flashbacks while leading at Le Mans
Second place Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Second place Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Podium: winner Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, second place Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, third place Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Second place Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
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The Tech 3 Yamaha rider, starting third behind the factory bikes of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, rocketed into the lead at the first corner on Sunday, and held the advantage until he was passed by Vinales on lap 7.

He held onto second until the latter stages, when he was passed by Rossi, but regained the place when the Italian crashed out of the lead on the final lap while battling Vinales for the win.

Zarco had crashed out of a comfortable lead on his MotoGP debut in Qatar, an incident he admitted was playing on his mind when he surged into the lead at the start of the Le Mans race.

But the Frenchman was delighted to claim a maiden premier class podium in front of his home fans, and said being passed by Vinales helped him maintain his pace.

“For me leading the race has been nice,” said Zarco. “It’s true that from the first race I feel good on the first corners and I took again this opportunity.

“When I was leading I had a quick flashback from Qatar and said, ‘Hey, don’t do the [same] mistake’. But the conditions were better so it was easier to stay on the bike than in Qatar.

“When [Vinales] overtook, it was great because I saw he was so fast and I was able to follow him. This has been a key for me for the podium, because I took his pace and then we could go away.

“In the end Valentino was so strong and was not many laps to go. I was up in third place but when he started to fight with Maverick I was thinking, here in France it’s quite a tight circuit so maybe something happens.

“I’m just happy, so many fans here. I’ve never been so strong like that, and I’m learning and enjoying.”

Soft tyre gamble

Zarco took the decision to use soft tyres front and rear on his Tech 3 bike, while the majority of riders opted for at least one medium – including Rossi and Vinales, who ran mediums all round.

The Moto2 champion admitted he was “lucky” that temperatures were cool enough during the race to make his tyre strategy a viable one.

“Because I only use the soft during the weekend, we wanted to go with the soft to keep this confidence,” explained the Frenchman.

“I’ve been lucky that today it was sunny, so big sunshine from the morning but finally for the race time it was not as hot as we expected; it was another key to keeping this pace today.”

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