Joan Mir says tricky wet weather conditions in the French MotoGP at Le Mans probably helped him limit the damage to his 2020 MotoGP title hopes, despite a punishing weekend capped off by a yo-yo race.

With the Suzuki GSX-RR and its infamously languid ability to generate heat into its tyres struggling in the chilly Autumnal conditions, Mir found himself on the back foot versus Fabio Quartararo from the start of the weekend.

Eight points behind the Frenchman coming to his rival’s home round, Mir’s title hopes looked destined to take a hit on Sunday when he qualified down in 14th, well adrift of his rival’s pole position.

However, rain just before the start of the race would - in some senses - come to save the day for Mir even if, like Quartararo, he had never started a wet weather MotoGP race.

He had to work hard for it though, Mir dropping to almost plum last after being sent wide at Turn 1 by a falling Valentino Rossi before struggling to get grip into the rear tyre. However, a late surge in performance brought him onto the tail of Quartararo - and even briefly ahead - before settling for 11th, with the rival Yamaha ninth.

It means Mir has only ceded two more points to Quartararo (10 points) but he says he will need to understand how he was one of the slowest at the start but almost quickest of all at the end.

“Something was happening that I was not able to warm the rear part of the tyre, so I was not feeling great and I was losing a lot of time in the first laps. 

“Then when I started to get back the good feelings, I was able to be really strong, even more than what I expected. I was strong, so I am happy for that because it was my first race in wet conditions.

“The performance at the end of the race was really high. It’s really important to understand what happened at the beginning because it is not normal that at the end of the race I was one of the fastest but at the beginning the slowest.

“I was stronger in the second part of the race, so it is important to know what happened because if you don’t have exit grip, you lose the rear like what happened to Valentino [who crashed at Turn 1].

Reflecting on the 2020 MotoGP title battle, which leaves France roughly as they were arriving, Mir is conscious this indifferent form cannot be repeated in the upcoming Aragon/Teruel double header.

“We both had a bad race, I think we weren’t in the position we expected to be. It was OK because in dry conditions he had something more than the others, so probably he would have the chance of victory, and I was not one of the fastest in dry conditions. We would have improved on 11th, maybe in the top five, so if he took victory it would have been more points. To make one bad race is allowed, but we cannot do is repeat this performance in Aragon.”