Spanish star Jorge Lorenzo found the perfect remedy for his Jerez frustrations at Le Mans, bouncing straight back from his DNF in Spain with a brilliant win at the Grand Prix de France in highly difficult conditions – to return to the top of the standings.
Lorenzo took the lead on the first lap and shot away at the front, building up a big advantage on wet tyres as the track dried quickly, eventually being the last rider to change onto slicks in his first ever ‘flag-to-flag’ contest and riding superbly on both sets of tyres to win by a 17 second margin.
Another brilliant effort by Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri saw him cross the line second for his first podium since 2007, having been unsure of his MotoGP future over the winter.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa hunted down his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso on the final lap for third place to secure his third consecutive rostrum result.
A nightmare for Valentino Rossi saw him slip from first to joint second in the standings after a chaotic race. The World Champion swapped bikes three times, suffered a crash and was given a ride through for speeding in pit lane before eventually finishing last.
Australians Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) and Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) were fifth and sixth respectively, with Stoner drawing level with Rossi in second place in the championship.
Veterans Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who mounted a comeback from sixteenth early in the race, and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) would have ultimately hoped for better than their seventh and eighth places.
A solid performance for James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) saw the Englishman take a step in the right direction in ninth and Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini) completed the top ten.
Earlier, on a wet track Marco Simoncelli took his second podium in two races, with his first win of the year, going some way to make up for his pointless visits to Qatar and Japan.
Simoncelli brought his Metis Gilera machine home 18 seconds ahead of Héctor Faubel (Valencia CF – Honda SAG), who recorded his first 250cc podium with a solid ride. Also avoiding any errors was Simoncelli’s team-mate Roberto Locatelli who came home third having not been on the rostrum since 2006.
Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar) picked up good points in fourth place to go top of the general standings, a single point ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing) who finished eighth. Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT SAG) scored the best result of his career to date, whilst Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing) crossed the line sixth.
Czech rider Lukas Pesek (Auto Kelly – CP) was seventh and Imre Toth (Team Toth) ninth, coming home just ahead of World Championship newcomer Vladimir Leonov (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) who scored a creditable tenth.
Like Lorenzo, Julián Simón put his Jerez heartbreak behind him with a masterful display in the 125cc race, dealing brilliantly with the difficult conditions to come from seventh on the grid to win by 27 seconds.
In second place German 15 year-old Jonas Folger (Ongetta Racing I.S.P.A.) also put his Spanish GP disappointment out of his mind with a battling display from 16th on the grid, riding beyond his years to take his first podium in just his tenth race.
On another good day for the Bancaja Aspar team Sergio Gadea completed the rostrum places, with his team-mate Bradley Smith doing a professional job to bring his Aprilia home in fourth and collect more valuable championship points.
Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami (Ongetta Racing I.S.P.A.) and Swiss competitor Dominique Aegerter (Ajo Interwetten) were fifth and sixth respectively, whilst Andrea Iannone (Ongetta Racing I.S.P.A.) remounted from a first lap crash to finish seventh. Efrén Vázquez (Derbi Racing Team) was eighth, double crasher Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) finished ninth and Lorenzo Zanetti (Ongetta Racing I.S.P.A.) was tenth.
The MotoGP World Championship returns to action after a weekend’s break, with the Gran Premio d’Italia Alice taking place at Mugello from 29th-31st May.