41 riders started the Moto2 race at Le Mans, but only 30 reached the finish after yet another incident-packed 600cc race, which ended with Toni Elias taking his second win in a row and with it the world championship lead.
Most of the drama came in the first half of the race, and included:
• Dominique Aegerter and Karel Abraham being knocked down at turn one.
• Alex Debon getting a jump start penalty whilst leading.
• Kenny Noyes and Yuki Takahashi crashing out of third and fourth in separate incidents on lap five.
• Home hero Jules Cluzel lowsiding through the ultra-fast first turn moments after taking the lead from Toni Elias, and was then almost hit by Xavier Simeon who suffered an identical fall just behind him.
• Simeon's out of control Holidaygym Moriwaki staying on two wheels after his accident, turning in a fast arc and slamming into the side of Alex de Angelis like a perfectly aimed surface-to-surface missile.
• Takahashi's Tech 3 team-mate Raffaele de Rosa suffering a highside from the edge of the top ten and forcing title leader Shoya Tomizawa off track in the process.
• Tomizawa, having survived the earlier near miss, tangling with Mattia Pasini a few laps later while seeking to improve on 20th, bringing them both down.
And that was all in the first 16 of the 26 laps, after which Jerez winner Elias (Gresini/Moriwaki) had a lead of less than one-second from fellow Spaniard Julian Simon (Aspar) with Simone Corsi (JiR/Motobi) and Andrea Iannone (Speed UP) fighting for the final podium position.
Elias gradually increased his advantage over Elias during the remaining laps to take victory by 1.336 sec over Simon - who celebrated his first Moto2 podium on his Suter debut after switching from the RSV chassis - while Corsi likewise stood on the rostrum for the first time this year.
Elias is now a healthy 18 points ahead of Tomizawa, who amazingly remains in second position despite his DNF.
Jerez podium finisher and another early championship contender, Thomas Luthi,, began the race just 17th but looked set to benefit from the carnage ahead and claim solid points, but eventually finished just 19th after some kind of incident.
After his earlier penalty - in his defence the red lights were held for a long time - Debon clawed his way back up to 16th, just missing out on a world championship point.
Race results - Le Mans:
1. Elias (Moriwaki) 26 laps
2. Simon (Suter) +1.336s
3. Corsi (Motobi) +2.831s
4. Iannone (Speed Up) +4.880s
5. Talmacsi (Speed Up) +13.293s
6. Gadea (Pons Kalex) +13.415s
7. Wilairot (Bimota) +14.214s
8. Nieto (Moriwaki) +14.554s
9. Bradl (Suter) +23.503s
10. Rolfo (Suter) +23.687s
11. Redding (Suter) +23.959s