Not long after facing the devastation of crashing out of his home grand prix when challenging for victory, Johann Zarco refused to show remorse for his approach in Sunday’s MotoGP outing at Le Mans, saying accepting fifth place was not “in the mood of the weekend.”

An ever-aggressive Zarco was among the leading names in the opening, breathless exchanges at Le Mans, but found he was having to override to stay with – and attempt to overtake – early leader Jorge Lorenzo.

The double Moto2 world champion, who secured a memorable pole position the day before, crashed out of third place on lap eight with the factory Ducati rider and Marc Marquez just ahead. Attempting to make up for an acceleration deficit would be his eventual undoing, as Zarco just went over the limit when braking for turn eight. 

The home hero was very much in demand throughout the weekend, and a home support of over 100,000 added to the occasion. Reflecting on the day, the 27-year old could see he had faced “some pressure,” stating he was “trying to calm myself” during a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem before the race.

But the Zarco felt he “was ready” as action kicked off. And an approach of win-or-bust, putting his bike among the class' leading names will be of benefit in the future, he said. “Living at that limit, I will understand it.”

“Now with the experience of the GP and all the people screaming my name we can say there was some pressure,” said Zarco, reflecting on a first DNF in MotoGP since his explosive debut in the class in Qatar just over a year ago.

“But I am happy to have this situation and try to take it as a positive. Yesterday it was great emotion to be on the start grid and see all the people and even now just before the start to hear the Marseilles I was smiling and trying to calm myself.

“I was ready in my mind. When we started the race today it was necessary to accept that I have the machine to fight for victory and the others have other machines with their strong and weak points.

“Maybe I must race and accept to finish fifth but I don't think it was the mood of the weekend and the mood of the day. I don't think the crash was about pressure it was the reality to give the best to dream about victory.

“I’ll keep it in mind because it will help me to grow. We can see that Marc is controlling more races but even when he is in control he can crash and he saved a nice one today. It means a rider can still be better. Living at that limit, I will understand it.”

Like he did in last year’s French encounter, Zarco attempted to lead from the off, but found his attempts frustrated by early leader Lorenzo. The superior acceleration of the Ducati forced the Tech 3 rider into making up time on the brakes, a dangerous ploy, with the front end right on the limit.

“It was a difficult race for me,” continued Zarco. “I had a good start and then with Lorenzo I had to go more than 100% to try and overtake him. I was losing too much on acceleration so then you have push more on the brakes to catch him and maybe overtake him.

“It was maybe too much energy and it pushed me to do that mistake. It is a shame, but I want to keep thinking about victory because it is the best way to race and the best way to learn.

“About the pace, I think I did have it. Maybe not for the win but for the podium and second place was possible normally with the bike getting more light and with less fuel I have a better feeling to race.

“The problem was all these laps at the beginning and trying to overtake Lorenzo was too difficult. I tried to do it but I was losing a lot in acceleration and then to catch him back and then to think about how to overtake him I think this took all my energy and I was more than 100%.

“I did not expect to crash and I should have maybe waited to have less fuel and feel more confortable, and for Jorge to slow to overtake him but the way he was pushing at the moment did not give me this possibility.

“If I had tried to wait even more I’m losing more positions. I’m in front of a wall and when you don't know what to do you have to give your best.”

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