Ride fast, but not too fast ... open the gas, but don't spin the rear tyre ... there's races where you can go for it from first lap to last, but Sunday in Barcelona was a day of riding on eggshells as well as you could and seeing if you could get away with it. I did and managed to come home fifth which was something, because it was a day where it could have gone wrong so easily. Shame to miss out on a podium and all that, but it would have been a shame to be on the floor as well after doing so much work. So I'll definitely take it. I've been happier, but I'm not disappointed, let's say that.
Why was it so hard here compared to usual? I know talking about weather and tyres isn't the most exciting thing in the world but it'll help me explain. Last year we raced here in June (like we always do) and it's bloody hot in Barcelona at that time of year. It was about 25 degrees, the track was over 50, so that affects what tyres you choose and how you approach it. This year, because we're here in late September because of the calendar being shuffled and delayed with COVID and all of that, it was cold all weekend. We're racing in the middle of the afternoon in autumn and it was only 17 degrees, and the track was only 20 when we started, and there was no sun at all. The track was just so cold. The hard tyres we have were too hard for that temperature and gave you no grip, so nobody used them. The soft had decent grip, but using them for 24 laps around here was about tiptoeing around to make sure you had something left at the end.
We all just about managed it, and you can see how close it was at the end because (Takaaki) Nakagami was seventh and less than four seconds behind Fabio (Quartararo), who won it but said his tyres were destroyed afterwards. I was more than two seconds a lap slower at the end of the race than I was at the beginning when we had a full tank of fuel. So it was definitely a race where we tried to hang on instead of being in attack mode.
I was fourth most of the race but those Suzukis had way better pace than us near the end so I couldn't fight them, there wasn't much point. When my teammate Pecco (Bagnaia) came by me on the last lap I fought that one though! I got him back and had just enough to hold him off in the end, and I didn't lose a spot in the championship so that's good, I'm still sixth with six races to go so I'm still in it. It felt like a salvage day for the championship, one where you take your points and go home, basically.
We got to about 10 laps to go and my plan was to start pushing on and trying to reel in those Yamahas, and then with about seven laps to go the rear tyre fell off a cliff and died in the arse, more or less. I was a bit of a sitting duck from there, and the Suzuki boys, (Joan) Mir and (Alex) Rins, seemed to have more tyre life than the rest of us. As we were coming back in on the cool-down lap I noticed their tyres didn't even have any lines on them, where mine and all the Yamahas did. The Suzukis could have handled a few more laps, but I reckon the rest of us were pretty happy that it ended when it did.
It's been a crazy busy time for all of us, eight races in about 11 weeks I think it's been – I've kind of lost count to be honest! So, a week off before we head to Le Mans if definitely something to look forward to – it'll be a quick chance to recharge and then get set for these final six races, they're going to come thick and fast …