Fabio Quartararo believes he would have lost out on victory in the Catalunya MotoGP had the race lasted another lap longer as he returned to the top step of the podium for a timely third victory of the season.

The Frenchman was chasing a big result coming into the eight round of the season following a run of lacklustre, error-strewn form in the aftermath of his stunning double victory at Jerez at the start of the year.

That target took on further resonance when Andrea Dovizioso - who came into the race leading Quartararo at the top of the standings by a single point - crashed out on the first corner.

However, after assuming the lead on lap seven, Quartararo cruised home to victory to reclaim the series lead and move eight points clear of Joan Mir.

“It was a difficult race. I made a great start but I was fourth, then Jack made a mistake and it was the perfect moment to overtake. When I took the lead from lap six, our pace was really fast and too fast to keep the tyre fresh for the end. 

“At the end, I was three seconds slower but not because I was in control, I was at maximum and unfortunately it’s difficult to understand because the two guys here were faster than me. 

“It was so important to make the first half of the race in the best condition, we have to be happy about our job today because after five races where we had a tough time. We learned many things but it is good to be back on the podium.

With his closest challengers in Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi falling away when the former ran wide at Turn 1 and the latter crashed out, Quartararo’s biggest rival would end up being his rear tyre as it degraded rapidly in the closing stages to the extent he dropped four seconds in the final two laps.

With this in mind, the Petronas SRT Yamaha rider believes he’d have certainly dropped behind the Suzukis of Joan Mir and Alex Rins had the race lasted a lap longer.

“In the first part of the race I was not expecting the grip to be that good because the lap time was really fast. I felt a little bit less grip but we managed to get those fast laps, just the problem at the end. I dropped from 41, to 42 and then to 43 in the last three laps. 

“Two more laps and I would have been doing the lap time of the Moto3 guys. Lap 25 I think these guys would have overtaken me.”

Coming after a run of disappointing results that have tested Quartararo’s credentials as a title contender given his relative experience at this level, he was proud to punch in the result he needed to silence some of his own demons.

“Misano I, we spoke with the team about Ducati not being so great there and we needed to make a great result and I crashed. 

“So that was one of the worst races of the year, but after the races in Austria and Brno that actually we suffered a lot, so we had a lot of moments in which we’ve struggled but in the tough moments we were still working hard. Great to be back in front.”