Vinales wins thriller

EXTENDS LEAD: Spanish rider Maverick Vinales holds his trophy aloft after winning the French MotoGP at Le Mans yesterday
Picture: AFP

Rossi error on last lap gifts Spaniard MotoGP victory

Spain’s Maverick Vinales snatched victory in a thrilling French Grand Prix at Le Mans yesterday after a captivating duel with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi.

Vinales surged into the lead of the MotoGP world championship at Rossi’s expense after the 38-year-old Italian slid off in the final lap as he chased the fellow Yamaha.

Local favourite Johann Zarco – also on a Yamaha – was second and Spain’s Dani Pedrosa, of Honda, third.

Vinales, 22, who lost the early lead to Zarco after starting from pole, said: “Incredible, incredible. I just gave my best. I saw Valentino make a mistake and I made a push after two disastrous races.”

Vinales and Rossi were battling for the win throughout, but stepped up their battle with three laps to go when Rossi grabbed the lead.

It looked all over, but Rossi made an uncharacteristic error to allow Vinales back into the lead on the last lap. Rossi then lost control and skidded out the race when pushing hard to get his nose back in front in the closing moments.

Rossi was left distraught afterwards as Vinales celebrated a third win from five grands prix this season to lead the standings on 85 points, with Pedrosa on 68 and Rossi still stuck on 62 in third.

Earlier, half the Moto3 field went flying off the track in a mass pile-up that caused the race to be restarted.

What appeared to be leaked fluid on only the second lap of the race saw a succession of riders slide off at high speed.

Championship leader and eventual winner Joan Mir, of Spain, was among those who went for a medical check-up, but none of the riders was badly hurt and all were able to return for the restart.

When the action got back under way 30 minutes later, the race was shortened to 16 laps.

Franco Morbidelli made it four victories from five races as he held off hard-charging fellow Italian Francesco Bagnaia to win the Moto2 race.

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