Dani Pedrosa won a wet French MotoGP at Le Mans after an action-packed race that also saw Cal Crutchlow claim a best yet runner-up result, Andrea Dovizioso
lead for Ducati and a comeback charge by rookie Marc Marquez.
By contrast it was an event to forget for the Factory Yamaha team, with reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo
slipping to seventh place and team-mate Valentino Rossi
falling on his way to twelfth.
While pole sitter Marquez was swallowed by the pack into turn one, Dovizioso blasted from the outside of the front row to take the holeshot ahead of Lorenzo, with Pedrosa bursting forwards from sixth to third.
Pedrosa then put his Repsol Honda ahead of Lorenzo on lap 3 of 28, but had a tougher time dealing with Dovizioso. Three times Pedrosa overtook his former team-mate, only to make a mistake and allow the Italian back ahead. The final exchange came at the halfway stage after which Pedrosa built a lead of over seven seconds before backing off in the closing laps, by which time a clear dry line was developing.
Crutchlow worked his way up from seventh on lap one and moved into third place with a pass on Rossi at the midway stage.
Dovizioso lost second place to Crutchlow - given medical clearance to race after suffering a small right shin fracture on Saturday - with just five laps to go. The Italian then saw a well-deserved podium snatched away when the recovering Marquez squeezed inside at the first chicane on the penultimate lap.
Dovi's Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden
was eighth-seconds further back in fifth, but had lost time when Rossi lowsided just in front of him - from what was then fourth place - on lap 18. The Italian rejoined but couldn't rise higher than twelfth.
Lorenzo had no such obvious setback, instead the Spaniard simply faded to a low of ninth, before falls for Rossi and Stefan Bradl raised him to seventh position, four-seconds behind Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista.
Ducati test rider Michele Pirro took a creditable eighth place as a stand-in for the injured Ben Spies at Pramac, with Crutchlow's rookie team-mate Bradley Smith ninth and LCR Honda's Bradl tenth. Andrea Iannone, fresh from arm pump surgery, finished one place ahead of friend and countryman Rossi in eleventh.
Aspar's Aleix Espargaro was the leading CRT rider in 13th on a day when team-mate and local hero Randy de Puniet
crashed out. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) completed the points scorers.
Pedrosa - the first double winner of the season - has now moved to the head of the standings by six points over Marquez, with Lorenzo 17 points behind in third.
Crutchlow's best ever MotoGP finish moves him to fourth in the standings, ahead of Rossi.
The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello takes place on June 2.French MotoGP:
1. Dani Pedrosa
2. Cal Crutchlow
3. Marc Marquez
4. Andrea Dovizioso
5. Nicky Hayden
6. Alvaro Bautista
7. Jorge Lorenzo
8. Michele Pirro
9. Bradley Smith
10. Stefan Bradl
11. Andrea Iannone
12. Valentino Rossi
13. Aleix Espargaro
14. Danilo Petrucci
15. Karel Abraham
16. Colin Edwards
17. Michael Laverty
18. Hector Barbera
19. Hiroshi Aoyama
Randy De Puniet