Jorge Lorenzo dominated the French Grand Prix in damp conditions at Le Mans and took the lead in the MotoGP championship.
Not only did the Yamaha man ride magnificently, he was also the most strategically clever, and now moves back to the head of the standings thanks to a crash by his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.
All riders started the race with bikes set up for rainy conditions, after the event was declared wet, meaning that riders could pit during the 28-lap race to switch to bikes set up for the dry.
But while most of Lorenzo's rivals started pitting early, the Spaniard stayed out the longest and kept widening his lead. He only pitted when the rest of the field started creeping closer, and in the space of a couple of laps his gap started increasing again.
Lorenzo, who lost a position at the start after starting from second on the grid, but was at the front by the end of the lap, after overtaking Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
In the end, he won by more than 17 seconds over the incredible Marco Melandri, whose Hayate-entered Kawasaki is regarded as the least competitive package on the grid.
The Italian, who had a terrible 2008 with Ducati and an uncertain winter with his switch to Kawasaki just before the works team quit, had a fantastic race that saw him cutting through the field from ninth on the grid and then flying on slick tyres on a still-damp track.
At one point, after Lorenzo pitted and was acclimatising to the slick tyres, it looked like Melandri could even take the lead, with the gap to the leader shrinking from 13 down to five seconds. When the distance between the two started widening again, Melandri settled down and allowed the riders following him to finish just two seconds behind.
Pedrosa, who started from pole, managed to snatch third from Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso with just three turns to go on the last lap, after making up seven seconds on the Italian in the last ten laps of the race. The Spaniard had lost ground in the wet early laps, and changed to slicks prematurely.
Casey Stoner took fifth with his Ducati after a dip in form midway through the race, followed by Suzukis of Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi, with Colin Edwards's Tech 3 Yamaha in between the blue bikes.
Edwards's team-mate James Toseland and Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) rounded up the top ten.
Rossi finished last, and now trails team-mate Lorenzo by one point in the standings.
The eight-time world champion, who managed to slot into second by the fourth lap, crashed just a few turns after being the first to switch bikes on lap five. He managed to rejoin the track with a damaged bike after a few seconds had gone by, so that he could switch bikes again.
But he forgot to switch on the speed limiter after pitting and had to suffer a ride-through. In the end he pit once more to switch bikes and carried on with the race in the hope of scoring points, but failed and finished 16th, two laps behind Lorenzo.
Pos Rider Bike Time 1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 47m52.678s 2. Marco Melandri Hayate Kawasaki + 17.710s 3. Dani Pedrosa Honda + 19.893s 4. Andrea Dovizioso Honda + 20.455s 5. Casey Stoner Ducati + 30.539s 6. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki + 37.462s 7. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha + 40.191s 8. Loris Capirossi Suzuki + 45.421s 9. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha + 50.307s 10. Toni Elias Gresini Honda + 53.218s 11. Alex de Angelis Gresini Honda + 53.550s 12. Nicky Hayden Ducati + 56.647s 13. Yuki Takahashi Scot Honda + 56.688s 14. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda +1m11.299s 15. Niccolo Canepa Pramac Ducati +1m15.385s 16. Valentino Rossi Yamaha + 2 laps Retirements: Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 11 laps