The weather that played a critical part over the whole race weekend at Le Mans again determined events in what turned out to be a stunning French Grand Prix; won eventually by Sete Gibernau, from Valentino Rossi with Alex Barros in third.

The first initial race was stopped after 15 of the scheduled 28 laps run with Rossi leading, when rain fell.

Under new rules the re-started race was to determine the outcome with aggregate times.

The following 13-lap 'mini-prix' turned out to be a titanic battle between Yamaha mounted Barros and RCV riders Rossi and Gibernau, who all choose the same full wet tyre tyres and rode with consummate skill in the half wet/half dry conditions.

"That was a good show for everyone!" smiled Vale after losing out on the run to the flag. "In the dry we had a good setting and it was possible to go away but then the rain came and we had to stop. In the second part it was very difficult to judge the conditions and we had a good fight with Sete and Alex.

"In the last lap I try to overtake but on the second time I go too wide and I arrive second. Anyway the race was good fun and 20 points is good for the championship," shrugged the Italian.