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Lorenzo wins at Le Mans to take championship lead

updated 2:05 PM EDT, Sun May 20, 2012
Jorge Lorenzo and second-place Valentine Rossi thrived in the wet conditions at Le Mans
Jorge Lorenzo and second-place Valentine Rossi thrived in the wet conditions at Le Mans
  • Jorge Lorenzo wins the French MotoGP for his second victory of the season
  • Valentino Rossi thrives in wet conditions to finish second for his best result for Ducati
  • Casey Stoner is third in the week he announced his impending retirement
  • Lorenzo leads the championship by eight points from Stoner

(CNN) -- Jorge Lorenzo climbed from fourth on the grid to win the French MotoGP at a rain-soaked Le Mans on Sunday and take the lead in the championship.

Riding his Yamaha flawlessly in the wet conditions, Lorenzo took the lead on the first lap and eventually finished 9.905 seconds clear of Valentino Rossi, who had the consolation of his best finish so far for Ducati.

Rossi held off a determined Casey Stoner, who finished third in the week he announced he was quitting the sport at the end of the season.

"It was really difficult to hold concentration today, in the dry it's complicated but in the wet it's even more," Lorenzo said. "The race feels much longer and you have to remember where the corners are slippery every lap. If you forget one you can crash very easily."

Lorenzo, who won for the second time this season, leads the championship by eight points from Stoner.

"I was pretty happy to hold on for a podium today," Stoner said. "I enjoyed the battle with Valentino at the end, there was clean overtaking and we swapped positions a few times but in the end we knew that Valentino had better pace than us and after he passed there was no way I could stay with him.

"We did everything we could today and to come away with a podium is a good result."

I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away
Valentino Rossi

Stoner's Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa started on pole but ended up fourth, and is now 25 points adrift of Lorenzo.

"In the race I immediately realized it was not my day, not a day to take any risk and it was important to simply reach the best position," Pedrosa said.

Rossi managed to work his way from the third row of the grid to second. The seven-time MotoGP champion overtook Stoner on the final lap to record his best result since joining Ducati in 2011.

"I'm really, really happy," Rossi said. "We knew we had a special opportunity in the wet today, so I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away.

"It was a great race and a nice, fun battle with Stoner to the last lap. Now our main goal is to take another step forward and make up some more tenths."

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