Manuel Poggiali took his first ever MotoGP win in the 125cc race at Le Mans today, after a thrilling last lap battle with Toni Elias and Mirko Giansanti that went all the way to the final corner.
Pole sitter Youichi UI was passed by Poggiali at the start, but best get away of all was Toni Elias, who leapt from sixth to second by the first corner.
Poggiali looked comfortable out front o the red Gilera, and continued to lead the pack around the 4.305km lap, meanwhile championship leader Masao Azuma was busy carving through the field – and up to eighth by lap 3 of 24.
By lap 4 Mirko Giansanti, who had moved steadily up the order from his seventh place start, passed Ueda for third at – then put Elias down a place as well when he moved into second at his home grand prix.
Giansanti's Axo Racing Honda then passed Poggiali for the lead on the following lap, but the Gilera is definitely not short of 'grunt' and Poggiali eased back by the impressive Frenchman on the following straight.
Meanwhile, Ui was clearly dropping down the order with what appeared to be some sort of problem, the Japanese rider having sunk to twelfth by this stage.
Giansanti swept passed the Gilera again on lap 7 at the Museum corner, with Ueda's TSR Honda still poised for action in third – but not for long – as Gino Borsoi out braked the Japanese rider towards the end of the lap.
Poggiali again proved that his Gilera has the horsepower advantage as the San Marian rode around the outside of Giansanti, along the start/finish straight on lap 11, while Ui was still back in seventh.
Giansanti was bumped further down the order when he was out braked by Borsoi on lap 13, with the top five (Poggiali – Borsoi – Giansanti – Elias – Cecchinello) having now broken away at the front, with Nobby Ueda heading the second pack.