Stoner clinches French MotoGP win as Pedrosa crashes out

The Honda rider recovers from a bad start to win his second grand prix of the season, while Dani Pedrosa crashes out at Le Mans.

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LE MANS // Casey Stoner, the Australian rider, recovered from a shaky start to seize victory in an eventful French Grand Prix today where MotoGP championship rival Dani Pedrosa crashed out.

The Honda rider began in pole position for the third time in four races but Pedrosa, starting on the second-row of the grid, produced a storming start to take the lead only to lose the initiative soon afterwards.

As Stoner pulled away from the pack, Spain's Pedrosa was involved in an enthralling battle for second with Marco Simoncelli and fell into the gravel after clipping the back wheel of the Italian with 11 laps remaining.

Simoncelli was punished for the incident by stewards and suffered a ride-through penalty for an "illegal manoeuvre", allowing compatriot Andrea Dovizisio to claim second.

Valentino Rossi, who has had a quiet start to the season, was also beneficiary of Simoncelli's punishment, with the seven-time champion finishing third — his first podium with his new team Ducati. World champion and the championship leader Jorge Lorenzo came home fourth.

Stoner was adding this to his opening success in Qatar and the Australian moved up to second place in the standings on 66 points, 12 behind Lorenzo, with Pedrosa in third on 61.