Monster Yamaha tech 3 riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow both fought for a podium finish during Sunday's wet French MotoGP at Le Mans.

The biggest event of the year for the French-based team and its title sponsor, Dovizioso and Crutchlow spent much of the race dicing with seven time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi for third - pulling them closer to Casey Stoner in the process.

But while Rossi went on to catch and pass Stoner, the Tech 3 riders fell in separate incidents.

Crutchlow, who led the morning warm-up, was first to go - lowsiding from his M1 on lap 19 of 28. Dovizioso then dropped out of a safe fourth with just four laps remaining.

Both rejoined to finish seventh (Dovizioso) and eighth (Crutchlow) respectively.

But it was impossible not to think what might have been.

"The battle with Cal and Valentino was hard but a lot of fun and it is a shame that I crashed while I still had a very good chance of my first podium for Tech 3 and Yamaha," said Dovizioso, who set the second-fastest race lap.

"I really wanted to achieve it here in the Team's home race, and also an important race f or our sponsor Monster. The last 12 laps my front tyre kept closing but Valentino couldn't escape from me and I could see we were catching Casey.

"I knew that I was pushing right on the limit with the tyres but I wanted to try and go with Valentino. It is a pity to crash but I'm really happy with my feeling with the Yamaha now."

Crutchlow also took comfort from the fact that he had again been in contention for what could have been a debut grand prix rostrum.

"I'm not happy to have crashed while I was fighting for the podium, but the consolation is that at least I was battling for the top three again," he said. "It was a great battle with Andrea and Valentino but I see med to miss out on a bit of speed on the straight compared to them. That meant I had to make up all my time in the corners.

"It was a shame I crashed because I was fighting with Valentino and he finished second. There was a chance of the podium today but at least I was there and I lost so much time after the crash that to still finish eighth is a bonus really."

Team manager Herve Poncharal couldn't fault his riders' efforts.

"It was a truly great fight between Andrea, Cal and Valentino. They showed tremendous r respect to each other, making hard but clean overtakes in really difficult conditions. It isn't good for my health but certainly good for TV," he said.

"At some point we thought both of them might have beaten Valentino today, but he picked up his pace and showed that he is still a class act. Cal was pushing hard to try and score his first podium and he crashed but he still managed to finish and credit to him for that.

"Andrea also wanted his first podium for Tech 3 and Yamaha and even though there was a big gap to Pedrosa behind him, he pushed to fight with Valentino and Casey and crashed. That can happen but I want to thank both of them for showing incredible fighting spirit."