Sunday’s 27-lap Le Mans race was the first flag-to-flag grand prix in MotoGP since 2017, with rain a few laps in forcing the field to switch to their wet bikes.
Zarco struggled in the early stages on slicks in wet conditions, dropping from fifth on the grid to 10th on the opening lap having been forced to avoid Franco Morbidelli at the Dunlop chicane.
He emerged from his bike swap fifth, albeit 19.7s off the lead and admits he took too long to get his medium wet rear tyre up to working temperature – which is where a shot at victory evaporated.
Once he got going, Zarco was able to work his way up to second and finished just 3.9s behind Ducati counterpart and race winner Jack Miller.
“Bad start and also I had to avoid Franco who had some problems on the bike,” Zarco said.
“So getting wide at the first corner and then going into the chicane, I really lost too many positions and after just a lap some rain is coming, no one was stopping.
“So, I stayed in the game and stayed with them, then second lap much more rain and first target was to bring the bike to the pitlane without any crashes.
“I did it and then I got out on the wet tyres in fifth position, so was OK, but a lot of rain and big wind.
“So, a few references on track were a bit different and my medium rear tyre took three or four laps to get ready.
“I think if I had to think about the victory, I would say I lost time in these four laps, too many seconds I lost there.
“But to be disappointed to miss the victory would be to think the wrong way, so pretty happy to be second because when the track got a bit more dry and the rear tyre got more comfortable to use I was enjoying on the bike and it was nice to catch the guys.”
Zarco is now just 12 points off the championship lead after his third podium of 2021 and believes he has “enough experience” now to fight for the title.
“It’s perfect because when you lead the championship after the first two races in Qatar, you believe in your chance to fight for the title,” he added.
“I think I have enough experience, I can have even more experience on the Ducati because maybe a few things are missing to be very comfortable on the Ducati.
“But the bike is ready, the team is ready. I would say that I can be ready, just need to control always more and more the Ducati.
“So, if this is coming fast enough during the season, I have a big chance for the title. So, to get 20 points today is so nice.”