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Vinales takes MotoGP victory at Le Mans, Rossi crashes on last lap

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Maverick Viñales moved back into the lead of the MotoGP riders’ championship by winning Sunday’s French Grand Prix in Le Mans as Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi crashed on the final lap.

Viñales took pole on Saturday ahead of Rossi and MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco, who appeared to be in contention for a famous home victory when he charged into the lead on the first lap.

Zarco was powerless to keep Viñales back when the Spaniard made a pass for the lead seven laps on, but the Tech3 rider did well to defend from Rossi and hold on to second place.

Rossi eventually overhauled Zarco with six laps to go before setting off in pursuit of Viñales, who he quickly caught and passed with three to go.

Rossi opened the door for Viñales late on to allow the Spaniard back past, but then saw his push to take back the lead on the final lap end in dramatic fashion when he slid off the track and out of the race.

Viñales crossed the line with a three-second buffer over Zarco in second, allowing him to pull out a 17-point lead in the riders’ championship in the process.

Viñales closest title rival is now Dani Pedrosa, who battled from 13th on the grid to take the final podium position in third place.

Pedrosa led Honda’s charge at the Circuit de la Sarthe after three-time world champion Marc Marquez crashed out, leaving him empty handed.

Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth for Ducati ahead Cal Crutchlow and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who like Pedrosa had to fight back from a Q1 exit.

Jonas Folger was seventh on the second Tech3 entry ahead of Jack Miller and Loris Baz, while Andrea Iannone rounded out the top 10.

F1: Hamilton leads Mercedes front row lockout in France

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Lewis Hamilton needed to outduel teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for Sunday’s French Grand Prix, after the Finn jumped ahead of the Briton on his final run – Bottas turned in a lap at 1:30.147 to barely get clear of Hamilton.

However, Hamilton ultimately got the last laugh and turned in a 1:30.029 on his final lap, bettering Bottas by just over one tenth of a second, to take the 75th pole of his career.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified third, followed by the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth and fifth. Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen ended up sixth.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified seventh, and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc qualified a brilliant eighth as the Frenchman continued a strong rookie campaign in front of his home crowd.

The Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean completed the top 10, with Grosjean actually crashing out of Q3 after nosing his VF-18 into a barrier.

Results are below. Of note: the McLaren drivers of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne failed to advance out of Q1 and qualified 16th (Alonso), and 18th (Vandoorne), though Vandoorne will start 17th as Brendon Hartley will start at the back of the grid after Toro Rosso changed several components of the power unit.