MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl took the best result of his young premier-class career with an impressive fifth place in Sunday's French Grand Prix.
Riding in his first wet MotoGP race, the reigning Moto2 world champion guided his LCR Honda from 13th on the grid to seventh after a flying opening lap, then spent much of the race in the wheel tracks of factory RCV star Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa pulled a couple of seconds on Bradl at the end of the race, but accidents for Tech 3 riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso moved the pair up to fourth and fifth.
Bradl, who resisted late race pressure from former world champion Nicky Hayden, said: “This is a fantastic feeling! I am very happy and the whole team is happy too: this makes me very proud. Honestly I think nobody was expecting such a good result in my fourth race in this class.
“In general the weekend was tough because we were struggling a lot in finding the right set-up during the dry sessions and I also had a big crash in yesterday's qualifying.
“Finally it rained before the race and I knew we had a good package for the wet. Already on my sighting lap I could feel that the bike was good and my first lap was amazing. After the first split I was in seventh.
“After that I rode behind Pedrosa for a long time. He has a very precise riding style and I learnt a lot from him. When it started to dry I could ride with more confidence, adapting to the situation even if Hayden was trying to catch me.”
Bradl is now seventh in the championship and equal on points with fellow satellite Honda rider Alvaro Bautista, who finished tenth at Le Mans.