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250: Simoncelli stars in French rain
17 May 2009
Reigning 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli has taken his first win of the season with a perfect performance in a soaking wet French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The Italian, without points at the first two rounds and third last time at Jerez, took the holeshot at turn one, before being passed by world championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama.
But the Scot Honda rider ran wide soon after, handing Simoncelli a lead he kept to the chequered flag.
The Metis Gilera rider sat eleven seconds clear of nearest rival Thomas Luthi by the halfway point of the 26 laps, but the Swiss star was wiped out by a lowsiding Alex Debon on lap 17, leaving Simoncelli 18 seconds in front of Hector Faubel and Roberto Locatelli.
Simoncelli, who fractured his wrist just before the start of the season, claimed his seventh 250GP victory by 18.128sec from Faubel, with Simoncelli's team-mate and 2000 125cc world champion Locatelli taking the flag 3.514sec behind the Honda SAG rider for his first podium since Valencia 2006.
After his early heroics, Jerez winner Aoyama rode a subdued race to collect eighth position, while Motegi winner Alvaro Bautista worked his way forwards from eleventh at the end of lap one to fourth.
All of which means that Simoncelli has vaulted forward from 16th in the points to fourth, 26 points from Bautista, who now leads the standings by one point from Aoyama.
Angel Rodriguez, drafted in to replace Gabor Talmacsi at the Aspar-run Balatonring Team, appeared in second place on the opening lap, but crashed while holding third soon after.
Another Aspar rider, home star Mike di Meglio, crashed out from the edge of the top ten just before the halfway stage.
Race result- Le Mans:
1. Simoncelli (Gilera)
2. Faubel (Honda) +18.128sec
3. Locatelli (Gilera) +21.642sec
4. Bautista (Aprilia) +31.087sec
5. Wilairot (Honda) +50.497sec
6. de Rosa (Honda) +56.366sec
7. Pesek (Aprilia) +1min 16.025sec
8. Aoyama (Honda) +1min 22.822sec
9. Toth (Aprilia) +1min 35.556sec
10. Leonov (Aprilia) +1min 47.990sec
14. Markham (Honda) +1 lap
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