Marquez cruises at Le Mans as Zarco crashes out

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Le Mans (France) (AFP)

Marc Marquez reeled off his third win on the bounce in the French MotoGP on Sunday as home favourite and pole sitter Johann Zarco crashed out.

Marquez took his 38th success in the top category unchallenged from Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Pramac) with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) in third.

Zarco had the home fans at Le Mans' Bugatti circuit dreaming of a rare French win after his record-setting pole 24 hours earlier but the Yamaha Tech star slid out of contention on lap seven.

Zarco's premature exit left Marquez in control in a race that after early drama turned into something of a procession.

The result tightened Marquez's grip on the MotoGP standings with the defending four-time champion on 95 points.

His closest pursuer is Maverick Vinales, albeit 36 points behind, with Zarco on 58 points in third, and seven-time world champion Rossi two points further adrift.

At the start, Zarco was quickly displaced at the front by track specialist Jorge Lorenzo, as behind Andrea Iannone on a Suzuki came to grief at the sixth corner.

Andrea Dovizioso's Ducati then swept past Lorenzo but no sooner had the Italian made his move than he too crashed.

It was then hapless Zarco's turn to exit, stage left, as the French MotoGP idol parted company with his bike with 20 laps remaining.

With the great gallic home hope out of the picture it didn't take long for Marquez to make his decisive move as Lorenzo back pedalled, eventually finishing sixth.