Borsoi took the lead momentarily on lap 15, but Poggiali – who crashed out of second in Jerez on the final lap, after leading most of the race – immediately re-passed the Italian.
Poggiali continued to lead, but was unable to shake off the pursuing quartet, and lost his lead with 4 to go when Borsoi slipped inside at the first corner. Poggiali looked certain to repass the Italian when he suddenly sat up at the nest corner – yellow flags – Poggiali avoided a penalty, but lost momentum.
The #54 Gilera rider would take the lead exactly where he had lost it a lap earlier, as he again made use of the Gilera/Derbi horsepower down the main straight.
2 to go and it was still to close to call, with nothing between the top five as they frantically swapped places to try and ensure they were in with a shot on the last lap.
The last lap of the French Grand Prix and Poggiali led a charging Toni Elias, with Giansanti still in touch in third.
Elias was soon up to the exhaust of Poggiali, and passed the Gilera with just a handful of corners to go, but Poggiali held on around the outside, slowing Elias and allowing Giansanti to follow the Gilera past the Spaniard at the last chicane.
But the race was all about Manuel Poggiali, who deservedly took his first ever MotoGP win, after threatening to do so on several occasions this year, and also Gilera's first victory on their return to Grand Prix racing this year.
Giansanti and Elias could also be pleased with their podium finishes, with both having shown their potential in a thrilling 24laps of the Le mans circuit.
Full results to follow….
1. Poggiali 43mins 33.372secs
2. Giansanti +0.218secs
3. Elias +0.298secs
4. Borsoi +0.515secs
5. Cecchinello +0.969secs
6. Vincent +7.357secs
7. Ueda +7.940secs
8. Azuma +8.464secs
9. Hules +8.751secs
10. Nieto Jr. +11.523secs
11. Ui +11.962secs
12. Jenkner +12.496secs
13. Sanna +12.514secs
14. de Angelis +20.667secs
15. Sabbatani +35.012secs