MotoGP rookie Aleix Espargaro claimed his best premier-class finish with ninth place in Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Mans, while injured Pramac Ducati team-mate Mika Kallio was just pleased to see the chequered flag.
Espargaro, competing in his first full MotoGP season, bounced back in style from two falls in the first two rounds by putting in a combative ride that culminated in the Spaniard gaining two places in the last two laps.
Aleix, older brother of Le Mans 125cc race winner Pol, crossed the line just a few tenths from eighth placed Hector Barbera, the top rookie on Sunday.
"I am very happy with the outcome of the race, it is by far my best result in MotoGP, and is the first time I finished the race in the top ten,” said Espargaro. “Too bad about the start, I lost two positions during the first lap, then I could not be fast enough and was second-last by the eighth lap.
“But then I found my rhythm, turning a few tenths faster than the riders in front of me and I found myself in the group that was fighting for eighth place. After a few laps I passed Aoyama and on the second-last lap I have seen the error made by Edwards and passed him as well as Simoncelli.
“Too bad for the little contact I had with Aoyama three corners before the finish line, this gave the advantage to Barbera and I lost out to him by very little. However I have great confidence for the next race and hope to improve further."
Meanwhile Kallio, who had injured his shoulder on Saturday morning, braved 'enormous pain' just to get to the end of the 28 laps, which he finished in a distant 13th and last for three points.
"The shoulder pain prevented me from being competitive, despite the painkillers they gave me an hour before the race,” said the Finn. “I felt enormous pain that did not allow me to do better and I was constantly one second a lap slower than the other riders.
“But from the pits my technicians indicated to me that some riders were retired and I clenched my teeth to finish the race and bring points to my team. I hope to not have any more shoulder problems for the next race and that it will be a good weekend from beginning to the end."