As the action continues relentlessly in the premier venue of motorcycle racing, round three took us to the land of champagne and baguette, as the French race lent the first glimpse of clarity into how the championship fight might turn out.

Straight out of the chutes, Fiat-Yamaha rider and international superstar Valentino Rossi converted a great start into an early lead, while Dani Pedrosa and points leader Jorge Lorenzo brought on the chase. The Yamahas were quickly one-two as Lorenzo passed Pedrosa and began to close the gap on Rossi. By lap seven, the points leader made his move for the front, only to see Rossi respond almost immediately to reclaim the lead. After ten loops, Lorenzo put a pass on that would stick, and was able to hold a convincing five-second lead as he passed the checkers, extending his overall points margin to nine ahead of Rossi, who repeated his second place finish from Spain. This also marked a third straight top finish for a Yamaha pilot in as many rounds, a feat that has not been repeated since 1980.

Behind the leaders, the battle to round out the top five was an intense one, using up the entire race to play out. During a dramatic final lap we saw Pedrosa surrender two positions in another battle of teammates, allowing Andrea Dovizioso to squeak by followed by the hard-charging Ducati topped by Nicky Hayden, who again carried the red team's results. Casey Stoner struggled and was put out of the race early due to a turn-six crash that he would be unable to return from, begging the question of whether his mind has already departed for Japan? Next stop: June 6th for all things Italian at Mugello and a chance for dethronement of the Yamahas. We can hardly wait!

[Source: | Image: AP Photo/David Vincent]

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