Valentino Rossi may have turned his 2012 fortunes around in the Le Mans rain, but fellow struggling factory rider Ben Spies (Yamaha) continued to endure a torrid start to the new season.
Expected to build on a debut MotoGP victory last season, Spies came into the new season looking strong after solid winter testing performances on the new Superbike-sized 1000cc M1.
But the Texan has endured a relentless run of bad luck in the events so far, scoring just 18 (out of a potential 75) points during the opening three rounds, then suffering his first non-score of the year at Le Mans. A race won by team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Spies' French Grand Prix went wrong just metres from the start, when he got sideways on a white line. Finishing the first lap in 18th place, the former World Superbike champion then suffered vision problems - forcing a pit stop.
Spies crossed the finish line in 16th place, one place outside the points.
“That was a rough race,” said Spies. “We actually got off to a good start at the beginning then had a very big moment on the line, something happened because then I had quite a lot of water coming in through my helmet and couldn't see much on the first five laps.
“I hoped it would get better but I couldn't see anything and decided to come in because I need to see where I am going. I knew the race was gone by then so went back out to try and get some data and get better working with the bike in the rain. Circumstances meant it wasn't a good day.”
“We were expecting a different race but unfortunately this bad luck doesn't want to disappear,” added team director Massimo Meregalli. “We're looking forward to Barcelona, we won't give up and we will get back up to where we belong with Ben.”