It later transpired that the Australian rookie was battling visibility issues due to water seeping into his helmet.

"I feel slightly frustrated about Remy Gardner’s result because he is normally very strong in rainy conditions, so I did not understand when I saw him losing contact with Raul’s group," said Poncharal.

"When he came back to the box, he was unhappy with his helmet which was full of water and considerably reduced his visibility.

"At this level, when you know how much investment goes into a race, it is a great shame to be missing out on a potential good result because of a helmet problem like we had today, and I find it difficult to accept.

"Apart from this, he managed to finish the race, which is good, and he also learnt a lot about his tyres and his bike in rainy conditions. I think that without his problem, he would have been fighting for the points in Raul’s group."

Gardner remained at the back of the field from lap 9 onwards, but was at least been able to up his pace once free from the spray of riders ahead. The reigning Moto2 champion matched the best race lap by team-mate Raul Fernandez (17th place) on the final lap.

"If I am honest, I expected more of the race today. I had some visibility issues with the rain and it did not improve much when I was behind the others, but at least I took a lot of experience and managed to do the 20 laps," Gardner said.

"The last few laps, I found myself on my own, so I had less water coming into my visor and was able to start improving my sectors and my times. I'll try to keep positive and move on to the next race.”

Gardner, top rookie with 15th on his MotoGP debut in Qatar, is now five points behind RNF Yamaha newcomer Darryn Binder, who finished tenth in the wet Mandalika race.

Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig also said that his rider, Pol Espargaro, suffered visibility problems due to a helmet issue on Sunday.