Petrucci wins French MotoGP, Quartararo retains overall lead

Danilo Petrucci celebrates after winning the race today. (AP pic)

LE MANS: Danilo Petrucci sprang a surprise to hold off rookie Alex Marquez and win the rain-hit French MotoGP at Le Mans on Sunday.

Home favourite Fabio Quartararo held onto the championship lead despite struggling from pole as the rain came down, finishing in ninth.

Petrucci, riding for Ducati, was winning for only the second time from 146 MotoGPs. The 29-year-old was the seventh different winner of the nine races staged so far in this coronavirus-disrupted campaign.

Quartararo may have failed in his bid to become the first Frenchman to win in the premier category on home soil since the championship was launched in 1949.

But the Yamaha-SRT rider can take comfort from extending his lead by two points to 10 in the world title battle over Joan Mir, who came in 11th.

The MotoGP crown is there for the taking in the absence of Marc Marquez, the six-time champion who has been hors combat since suffering a fractured arm in an opening-race fall.

As rumours swirled around the Bugatti circuit that Marquez may return at Aragon next weekend his younger brother Alex was performing heroics to chase home Petrucci for Honda’s first podium of the season.