Sete Gibernau saw off a brief challenge by fellow Spaniard Carlos Checa to win the French MotoGP at Le Mans and notch up a ten-point advantage in the rider’s championship.

Sete Gibernau saw off a brief challenge by fellow Spaniard Carlos Checa to win the French MotoGP at Le Mans and notch up a ten-point advantage in the rider’s championship.

Checa took the lead at the start and led Gibernau, Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden across the line for the first time. Neil Hodgson, John Hopkins and Norick Abe were all eliminated on the grid after the Japanese rider collided with Hodgson when Hopkins’ bike fell in front of them.

Meanwhile, Checa and Gibernau were soon breaking away at the front of the field and ran nose-to-tail until lap 12, when Carlos ran slightly wide on a long right-hander. Gibernau took advantage of his countryman’s error and forced his way into the lead.

Biaggi and Rossi were in a near-identical battle for third position. The Emperor slipstreamed past his archrival for the first time on lap 12 and in the final five laps, Gibernau edged further ahead of by virtue of the battle for second between Biaggi and Checa.

Despite a last minute attempt by Rossi to scoop Biaggi’s position, he was unable to squeeze past and had to settle for a fourth finish across the line. In Rossi fashion, his Yamaha M1 was wheelied across the finish even though he missed out on a podium spot for the second week in succession.

Gibernau clinched top spot for the second time in a row, while Checa and Biaggi grabbed the remaining podium positions. Colin Edwards overcame the challenge of Marco Melandri to claim fifth, while Alex Barros, Troy Bayliss, Makoto Tamada and Loris Capirossi completed the top ten.

Original article from Car