Jorge Lorenzo moved back into the lead of the MotoGP riders’ championship after keeping his head while all about him lost theirs to win the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Defending champion Lorenzo arrived in France trailing Honda rider Marc Marquez by 17 points, but sent out a statement of intent on Saturday by claiming pole position.
Lorenzo managed to hold onto his lead off the line with a good start as the Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone shot up into second and third place.
A fall on Lap 7 brought Iannone’s race to an early end, while Dovizioso soon found himself coming under significant pressure from Valentino Rossi as the nine-time world champions sought to make up for a poor qualifying display.
Rossi eased past into second place at half distance to leave Dovizioso in the clutches of Marquez, only for the pair to both fall simultaneously in unrelated incidents. Dovizioso retired, and although Marquez was able to continue, he would only finish the race 13th.
Up front, Lorenzo had no such problems as he eased to his second victory of the season, heading up a Yamaha one-two as Rossi followed 10 seconds behind in P2.
The flurry of falls allowed rising MotoGP star Maverick Vinales to score his first podium finish in the series and the first for Suzuki since 2008.
Dani Pedrosa finished fourth for Honda ahead of Pol Espargaro and Aleix Espargaro, while Danilo Petrucci’s return from injury was a success as he ended the race seventh. Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl rounded out the top 10.
The MotoGP season continues in two weeks’ time with the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.