And World Championship lead
Valentino Rossi took a runaway triumph at the Alice Grand Prix de France, equalling Angel Nieto´s record of 90 World Championship wins with a superb solo run.
In a selfless display, Rossi shared the limelight with the MotoGP Legend, asking
Nieto to take him on a parade lap onboard the Yamaha M1. Aside from equalling the historic milestone, the win also allowed the five-time MotoGP World Champion to assume the leadership of the overall standings for the first time this season.
Whilst second row starter Rossi had broken away from the pack early, the battle for the podium was closely contested right up to the line. The Italian´s Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo once again took his share of the limelight, bursting through the field to take second place in spite of a catalogue of injuries. His latest rostrum means that he is now the highest rookie point scorer from an opening five races in history, overtaking hero Max Biaggi.
Completing the all-Yamaha podium, Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards took another rostrum finish not quite in line with his predictions of victory, but nonetheless a fantastic achievement for the newly consistent American.
Poleman Dani Pedrosa relinquished his lead of the World Championship with fourth place, having attempted to lead the race from the front. Some hard moves from both Lorenzo and Edwards at the end of the Le Mans battle left the Repsol Honda rider off the podium for the first time in 2008.
On lap fifteen the activity picked up in pit lane, as the white flags shown on trackside provoked the uncovering of the second bikes. The option was open for the premier class riders to make a switch, but few took up the offer.
Last year´s race winner Chris Vermeulen elected to stay out, and trailed Pedrosa for fifth, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden. Shinya Nakano and home rider Randy de Puniet completed the top ten on their respective San Carlo Honda Gresini and LCR Honda satellite RC212Vs, whilst there were crashes for Tech 3 Yamaha´s James Toseland and Kawasaki man John Hopkins.
Deserving of credit for his performance was 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner, despite the fact that he finished in last place. The Australian had been fighting for the podium until the twentieth lap, and pushed his Ducati Desmosedici GP8 nearly the entire length of the track to switch machines after it broke down. His teammate Marco Melandri was the only other rider to switch machines during the race.