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Marc Marquez has become the youngest winner of five premier-class races in a row after continuing his unbeaten run with a hard fought victory in the French MotoGP at Le Mans.

On pole for a perfect fifth time this year, by almost 0.7s, the reigning world champion was shuffled down the order at the first chicane, then got caught up behind Jorge Lorenzo when the Yamaha rider ran wide soon after.

That left Marquez back in tenth place, while Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso led the way from his front row start.

Valentino Rossi wrestled the lead from Dovizioso after a series of passes on the fourth of 28 laps, by which time Marquez had regrouped and begun working his through the field.

The braking zone for the first chicane was Marquez's favoured passing point, the Repsol Honda rider reaching second by moving inside former Moto2 rival Pol Espargaro at that spot on lap 11.

Rossi's 0.9s advantage soon evaporated and Marquez was handed the lead when Rossi ran wide towards the end of the 13th lap. Marquez then rode away from the Movistar Yamaha rider to win by 1.486s after backing off in the final laps.

Marquez now holds a huge 43 point title lead over team-mate Dani Pedrosa, while Rossi's third runner-up finish of the year confirms his current top Yamaha status and leaves him just two points behind Pedrosa.

Starting from a debut front row, at the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team's home event, rookie Espargaro did an superb job to hold a podium place for the first half of the race, before losing out to Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista.

A delighted Bautista thus celebrated his first rostrum of the year, turning the page on a difficult start to the season.

While Marquez brushed off his first lap setback, Lorenzo simply wasn't a contender this afternoon, losing fifth to Pedrosa during the second half of the race.

Pedrosa, like Stefan Bradl, was competing for the first time since arm pump surgery. Having overtaken Lorenzo, Pedrosa then put pressure on Espargaro for fourth in the closing laps. LCR Honda's Bradl was as high as second early on but finished seventh.

After leading, Dovizioso rapidly lost ground to finish in eighth place. Aleix Espargaro was the top Open class rider in ninth for Forward Yamaha, with Bradley Smith a disappointing tenth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha.

It was also a day to forget for countryman Cal Crutchlow, who appeared to suffer more braking issues on his way to tenth for Ducati after a difficult weekend.

Gresini rookie Scott Redding was the top Open class Honda rider in twelfth, with Aspar's Nicky Hayden falling on the exit of the first chicane after contact from Andrea Iannone on the opening lap.

Iannone, handed a penalty point for a close moment with Marquez in qualifying, lined up just eleventh on the grid but chose to play a 'joker' in the form of the special extra-soft rear tyre, only available to Ducati and the Open class.

The Italian fell on his own shorly after the contact with Hayden.

Behind Redding, Yonny Hernandez (Ducati), Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) and Karel Abraham (Honda) completed the points scorers.

Colin Edwards pushed his Forward Yamaha over the line for 17th.

All of the Factory class riders other than Iannone chose to race with the soft rear tyre.

Ioda's Danilo Petrucci missed the event due to a broken wrist at Jerez, with his planned replacement Luca Scassa breaking a femur in testing at Mugello.

The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello starts at the end of this month.

French MotoGP:
1. Marc Marquez
2. Valentino Rossi
3. Alvaro Bautista
4. Pol Espargaro
5. Dani Pedrosa
6. Jorge Lorenzo
7. Stefan Bradl
8. Andrea Dovizioso
9. Aleix Espargaro
10. Bradley Smith
11. Cal Crutchlow
12. Scott Redding
13. Yonny Hernandez
14. Hiroshi Aoyama
15. Karel Abraham
16. Michael Laverty
17. Colin Edwards
18. Broc Parkes
19. Mike Di Meglio
Andrea Iannone
Hector Barbera
Nicky Hayden


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Enjoyable race overall. Watching Rossi scythe through the field back in the day was fun. He toyed with the competition, whereas Marquez handily dispatches them and crushes with an iron fist. Rossi was fun, Marquez is fearsome.

And good job Bautista. Finally lived up to his potential for once, imo.