Jorge Lorenzo has become the first double winner of the 2009 MotoGP season with victory in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans - a race that began in the wet, finished in the dry and saw Marco Melandri take his Hayate-run Kawasaki to second position!

Meanwhile, Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi fell after a premature swap to slick tyres and also received a ride through penalty.

After showers throughout Friday and Saturday, rain began falling just after the Sunday morning warm-up session, but stopped as the MotoGP grid assembled and brighter conditions meant the track was certain to dry at some point in the race.

But the race began in fully wet conditions and with pole sitter Dani Pedrosa holding the advantage from Casey Stoner, Lorenzo and Rossi through the fast first turn and into the Dunlop Chicane.

Lorenzo shot past Stoner and Pedrosa in quick succession and began disappearing up front, while Rossi made more cautious progress - reaching the runner-up spot on lap 3 of 28, by which time Lorenzo was over two seconds clear.

Lorenzo pulled a further second on Rossi on the next lap, by which time a dry line was becoming visible, perhaps prompting Rossi to make the brave decision to pit for his dry bike.

Rossi, Pedrosa and Loris Capirossi all veered down the pitlane at the end of lap five and rejoined at the back of the field in 15th, 16th and 17th places - but the track was still very slippery in places and Rossi was caught out at the left-hand museum turn, losing the front of his M1 and sliding into the gravel.

Hopes of achieving his 99th grand prix victory on Sunday, and therefore battling for his 100th in front of his home fans next time out at Mugello, were effectively over but the reigning six-time world champion was eventually able to restart his M1 and cruise back to the pits with a broken screen.

Rossi rejoined on his wet weather bike, but later received a ride-through indicating some kind of pit lane infringement. The Italian served the penalty before pitting yet again, this time for his repaired dry bike, on his way to finishing 16th and last, with not even a point for his efforts.

Meanwhile, Melandri chose to pit just one lap after Rossi and emerged as the fastest of the slick riders, but Lorenzo's lap times on worn wets remained superior to the Italian's right until lap 10, by which time Lorenzo was 52 seconds ahead of the #33.

Lorenzo was the last to pit, alongside Toni Elias, at the end of lap twelve, and rejoined with a 13 second lead over Melandri, but that plummeted to just 4.6sec as the #99 carefully built heat into his slick tyres.

However, Lorenzo upped his pace from the halfway point onwards, circulating quicker than Melandri as he rode to a 17 second victory - his second of the year after Japan - and the world championship lead.

Melandri's ZX-RR wasn't a match for the factory machines on a fully dry track, but the 2005 MotoGP World Championship runner-up brilliantly kept his 'privateer' machine just out of reach of duelling Repsol Honda team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa.

Marco, who had matched Kawasaki's best finish of last year with fifth place at Jerez, has now equalled the manufacturer's best ever MotoGP result as an official MotoGP team from 2002-2008. It was also Melandri's first podium since Sepang 2007.

Pedrosa closed rapidly on team-mate Dovizioso in the closing stages and stole the final podium place from the Italian by diving inside of the #4 on the very final lap. A visibly disappointed Dovizioso missed out on his first Repsol Honda podium by 0.5sec at the line.

Stoner finished a lonely fifth for Ducati, ten seconds behind Dovizioso, with Chris Vermeulen the leading Suzuki rider in sixth place. Colin Edwards fought back from an atrocious opening lap for seventh in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team's home race, with Loris Capirossi (Suzuki), James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Elias (Gresini Honda) completing the top ten.

Lorenzo, who had lined up in the wrong grid place at the start of the race before being redirected to his proper position, is now one point clear of Rossi and Stoner in the championship standings, with Pedrosa fourth and only nine points from top

Sete Gibernau missed the race after fracturing his left collarbone on Saturday morning.

The Italian Grand Prix takes place at Mugello on May 31.

French Grand Prix:

1. Lorenzo
2. Melandri
3. Pedrosa
4. Dovizioso
5. Stoner
6. Vermeulen
7. Edwards
8. Capirossi
9. Toseland
10. Elias
11. de Angelis
12. Hayden
13. Takahashi
14. de Puniet
15. Canepa
16. Rossi