Alex Debon has taken his first ever victory in the battle of the tyres in the 250GP race in Le Mans.
The Aprilia rider was well in control from almost the beginning of the race after opting for slick tyres.
Second place went to a charging Derbi rider Marco Simoncelli, who came from well back to finish up second after battling in the final couple of laps with the ultra determined Mattia Pasini.
The beginning of the race had seen a wet track after the rain in the 125 race and so it was a gamble which tyres the riders opted for.
Hector Barbera took the lead after the first corner mayhem, up from 11th on the grid.
As a dry line was developing after the downpour in the 125GP, pole man Alex Debon worked his way through from a poor start to get back to the lead.
At the end of lap two Ireland’s Eugene Laverty was running in 21st place, as Yukio Takahashi moved up from sixth to third just behind Hiroshi Aoyama on the KTM.
Aoyama was on a charge and looking for the lead on lap three as he attempted to pass leader Debon.
The forecasted rain was back on the start / finish straight and mechanics were starting to look twitchy in the pits. Fabrizio Lai made a dash to the pits to change his tyres but with most riders on intermediates, they would be okay as long as the rain did not fall too heavily.
Lap six saw Alex Debon extend his lead as he posted the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:56.601. And as the rain stopped once again he set a 1:54.413.
Lukas Pesek went flying towards the gravel trap off his Aprilia on lap eight which sent Eugene Laverty up a place to 15th.
On lap 10 Debon had extended his lead to 5.235 ahead of Aoyama. Whilst Blusens Aprilia’s Laverty was on a charge and was now up to 14th.
Lap 11 saw Debon on another fastest lap with a 1:48.1, while Julian Simon had taken second place heading into lap 12. And Mattia Pasini was now also making up places and was now fourth.
But Laverty’s race seemed to be over on lap 13, having just moved into a career equalling best place of 13th he low-sided his Aprilia. He did run back to his motorcycle but didn’t manage to get going again.
Lap 14 saw a charging Debon on another fastest lap of 145:69 with 12 laps remaining. And then he managed a 1:44.7 on the following lap, 16. Now with the track dry, those who’d braved going out on slick tyres were starting to come into their own as Pasini was now on fastest lap times with a 1:43.724.
Pasini was now charging towards Shanghai winner Mika Kallio as they came up to end lap 18.
Kallio and Pasini go tht better of Simon with five to go as they knocked him down to fourth and then fifth on the same corner. And then Pasini got up to third taking Kallio on lap 23, then Takahashi was his next victim as the charging Italian moved into second. He also took the fastest lap of the race again this time recording a 1:40.180.
With Debon over ten seconds ahead at the front, it was time to battle it out for the remaining podium spots with just a lap and a half left. Marco Simoncelli was desperate to be part of that battle as he took third place from Takahashi on the penultimate lap and was now after Pasini’s second spot.
Karel Abraham was out of the race but Pasini was beaten in the final corner as Simoncelli set the final fastest lap with a 1:39.666 and with it took second place.
But the moment was all Alex Debon’s who’d slowed down but was still well in control to take the victory by more than four seconds.
French MotoGP 250 race results:
1 Alex DEBON SPA Lotus Aprilia APRILIA 47'27.406
2 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA Metis Gilera GILERA 47'32.222
3 Mattia PASINI ITA Polaris World APRILIA 47'32.404
4 Yuki TAKAHASHI JPN JiR Team Scot 250 HONDA 47'33.176
5 Mika KALLIO FIN Red Bull KTM 250 KTM 47'33.603
6 Manuel POGGIALI RSM Campetella Racing GILERA 47'33.880
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Red Bull KTM 250 KTM 47'42.315
8 Julian SIMON SPA Repsol KTM 250cc KTM 47'44.932
9 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Lotus Aprilia APRILIA 48'00.331
10 Hector FAUBEL SPA Mapfre Aspar Team APRILIA 48'04.125
11 Thomas LUTHI SWI Emmi - Caffe Latte APRILIA 48'16.374
12 Hector BARBERA SPA Team Toth Aprilia APRILIA 48'24.243
13 Roberto LOCATELLI ITA Metis Gilera GILERA 48'25.233
14 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team APRILIA 48'32.813
15 Ratthapark WILAIROT THA Thai Honda PTT SAG HONDA 48'51.742
16 Alex BALDOLINI ITA Matteoni Racing APRILIA 48'51.983
17 Federico SANDI ITA Zongshen Team Of China APRILIA 47'37.804
18 Imre TOTH HUN Team Toth Aprilia APRILIA 47'58.293
19 Russel GOMEZ SPA Blusens Aprilia APRILIA 48'05.598