Reigning double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner
admits he feels more at ease after making the shock decision to retire at the end of this season.
The Repsol Honda rider certainly seemed more relaxed than he might have been in the past after struggling for grip throughout Sunday's wet French MotoGP - and losing second place to Valentino Rossi
on the very final lap.
Stoner, who began the fourth round leading the championship by one point from Jorge Lorenzo, explained that - like team-mate Dani Pedrosa
- he was unable to raise and then reduce his wet tyres to the required temperature.
“That was a tough race!” he smiled. “We knew from this morning's warm-up that our bike just didn't seem to warm the tyres up very quickly. We just couldn't get the rear working well enough.
“It was the same in the beginning of the race, me and Dani were really struggling to get the tyres warm and working. Jorge used that opportunity perfectly to pull a huge lead.
“After that I was just trying to stay in second, I was getting pressure from behind and I was just sort of waiting for the bike to start working and get some edge grip.
“Then I got some edge grip and a little bit more confidence, decided to push and try and chase down Jorge. We got quite close, everything was looking good, then the rain stopped, the water levels dropped and we just overheated the rear tyre.
“We had nothing left at the end. We were spinning from first gear through to sixth. We just couldn't get any traction whatsoever out of the corners. I was sitting up as far as I could to try and get it and struggling.
“Valentino had the pace over us at the end. I fought, did everything I could to stay in front, but I couldn't even stay with him on the last lap. I think he pulled a second and a half on me.
“It was nice for me to be on the podium to be honest. Halfway through the race it wasn't looking so good for us. So I'm very happy to be up here.”
Stoner has finished on the podium at every round since Jerez last year, when he was brought down by a falling Rossi.
Lorenzo's victory means he has regained the 2012 championship lead by eight points over Stoner with 14 rounds to go.
Pole sitter Pedrosa finished fourth, but only after accidents for both Tech 3 riders ahead of him.