Casey Stoner won his second race of the 2011 MotoGP
season with relative ease in France on Sunday, but there was plenty of drama and controversy behind him.
The Repsol Honda rider had been fastest in all track sessions at Le Mans, and his pace simply proved too much for the opposition in the race.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa
put up valiant resistance for the first ten laps, but even his challenge had died out by the midway point of the 28 laps - when the Spaniard instead turned his attention to defending second.
The threat came from Marco Simoncelli, who had duelled with world champion Jorge Lorenzo
in the early stages, before breaking free and hunting down Pedrosa.
The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider made his move for second on lap 18 - and disaster struck for Pedrosa as he tried to retake the position.
Pedrosa drafted past Simoncelli along the back straight, handing him the inside line as they peeled into to the following left-right Esses. Simoncelli wouldn't surrender the position and attempted to ride around the outside of Pedrosa.
As Simoncelli swooped across in front of him, Pedrosa - on the tighter line - realised he was in trouble and sat his bike up, but his front wheel still hit the side of Simoncelli's bike and he was dumped hard onto the asphalt.
Pedrosa immediately grasped his right collarbone after coming to a rest, which he is reported to have broken, dealing his title hopes a major blow. Pedrosa had been recovering from strength and numbness problems, after breaking his left collarbone in last October's Motegi event.
Simoncelli, frequently criticized for aggressive riding, didn't escape unscathed either: Race Direction punished the Italian with a ride-through penalty - once again denying him a debut MotoGP
podium. Simoncelli rejoined in sixth, then overtook Ben Spies for fifth by the chequered flag.