Jorge Lorenzo triumphs in Le Mans

Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) won the French MotoGP Grand Prix in Le Mans and by doing so took the championship top spot. He finished the race ahead of Italian Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) and fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa (Honda).


AFP - Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo won the French MotoGP here on Sunday just a year after he finished second despite riding with two broken ankles.

The 22-year-old - a two-time 250cc world champion - enjoyed a trouble free ride on his Yamaha to coast home ahead of Italian Marco Melandri on a Kawasaki while pole sitter Dani Pedrosa of Spain was third on a Honda.

Lorenzo's joy was the reverse of Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi who had a nightmare as he sought his 99th career victory but in the end trailed in in 16th position without scoring a point.

That allowed Lorenzo to take over at the top of the standings where he leads Rossi by a point as well as Australia's Casey Stoner.

"It was a crazy race," gasped Lorenzo.

"The pivotal point came when we decided to change the tyres. After that I was riding confidently and it was easy from then on."

For Melandri it was a surprising but welcome change of fortune after a dire season last year for the former 250cc world champion.

"It's been a very tough time," said the 26-year-old.

"I just came here to do my best and I knew the weather would be a factor in the race.

"It is a very, very nice day for me."

Pedrosa was relieved to have grabbed third spot.

"I am very happy to be on the podium because I stopped to change the tyres too early.

"However, I was scared on the dry tyres after racing the first lap."

Lorenzo took the lead off his compatriot Pedrosa after the first lap passing both him and Australia's former world champion Casey Stoner in an audacious manoeuvre.

Stoner was suffering the most of the contenders as he then was passed by Rossi with 26 of the 28 laps remaining and the Italian great - known affectionately as the 'Doctor' - then overtook Pedrosa.

Lorenzo - who enjoys a difficult relationship with Rossi - held a lead of just over two seconds on the Italian.

However, disaster struck for Rossi with 23 laps remaining as having just come into the pits to change bikes and go on to dry tyres he came to grief on a corner and with his bike damaged he guided it back to the pits to get on a new one.

His day went from bad to worse as he was then penalised with a ride through penalty for speeding in the pit lane in his evident haste to try and rejoin the fray.

While he was enduring his nightmare Lorenzo looked serene out in front ahead of Andrea Dovizioso - who he led by over 11 seconds with 17 laps remaining - and he could afford to come into the pits with 16 laps to go.

Dovizioso's stay in second was shortlived and it was Melandri that became the biggest threat to Lorenzo as he trailed him by four seconds with 12 laps remaining.

Lorenzo never was in trouble after that and the main excitement came at the final lap when Pedrosa passed Honda team-mate Dovizioso to take the final podium spot.

Earlier reigning 250cc world champion Italian rider Marco Simoncelli won the 250cc Grand Prix. The Gilera rider beat home Hector Faubel of Spain while another Italian Roberto Locatelli was third.

Julian Simon of Spain on an Aprilia won the 125cc race ahead of Germany's Jonas Folger and Sergio Gadea of Spain.

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