For the second race in succession Andrea Dovizioso got the better of seven time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi by just a fraction of a second.
At Estoril the Italians had been disputing fourth, but on Sunday at Le Mans the fight was for second place behind Dovizioso's Repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner.
After moving past world champion Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi and Dovizioso were inseparable throughout the closing stages - when Dovizioso found a way around Rossi, then used some late-braking moves to keep the Ducati rider at bay by just 0.35sec.
"I'm really happy with the second position today, it's so important for the Championship and it arrives after a start of the season, where we didn't get the results we expected,” said Dovizioso, after his first podium of 2011.
“We did a very good job with the team since the beginning of the weekend and I knew I could fight for the podium, but I didn't expect second place.
“I had a great battle with Valentino and to beat him always has a special taste, and it's a good fun to get the podium after a hard fight. I was losing a lot in two areas but I was strong in braking, so I made a good strategy and once I overtook him, I pushed 100 percent not to have him too close especially in turns 10 and 11, where he was faster.
“Concerning the race, I had a good start, Lorenzo's strong overtaking slowed me down a little, but then I pushed to recover the gap. We had good pace, but we need to be faster. We have to keep on working to reduce the gap to stay with the front riders from the beginning.”
Dovizioso's second place came after team-mate Dani Pedrosa crashed - and sustained a broken collarbone - while battling for the same position with Marco Simoncelli.
“Dani today was very unlucky and I hope he can recover soon,” said Dovizioso.