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Pedrosa crashes out at Le Mans

Spaniard breaks collarbone for second time in a year as Stoner takes checkered flag

A dramatic weekend of motorcycle racing at Le Mans concluded with joy for two Spaniards, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, who took victory in the Moto2 and 125cc races, respectively, and anguish for another, Dani Pedrosa, who crashed out of the MotoGP race, breaking his collarbone in the process.

The main race in France on Sunday was won by Australian Casey Stoner, who was embroiled in controversy following an incident in the Saturday warm-up session. The former world champion was on a quick lap when he was obstructed by the Pramac Ducati of Randy de Puniet. As Stoner overtook the Frenchman, he gave him a punch on the arm. The two then gesticulated angrily at one another, before Stoner sped off. The Australian has been fined 5,000 euros for his actions.

When it came to the race, however, such shenanigans were far from Stoner's mind, as he managed to recover from a poor start to take first place on the second lap. And there he stayed, with the action taking place further down the field.

Pedrosa had managed to keep up with Stoner's pace during the early stages of the race, before falling back toward the Gresini Honda of Marco Simoncelli. On lap 17, the Italian managed to overtake the Spaniard, only to lose the position immediately afterward. He came back however, sweeping around the outside of Pedrosa, who clipped the rear wheel of the overtaking rider and crashed off the track.

As soon as Pedrosa stood up, it was clear that he had injured his collarbone, and he left the track with his arm hanging limp and his other hand clutching his neck area. The Spaniard was later confirmed to have broken his right collarbone. He had only just recovered from a fracture to the left collarbone- after a crash at Motegi last year- which required two bouts of surgery.

Simoncelli was given a ride-through penalty for the incident, meaning that Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Ducati) were fighting for second. A mistake by Lorenzo, however, saw the other two stream past him, handing Stoner victory with Dovizioso in second, Rossi in third and Lorenzo in fourth.

The result leaves Lorenzo heading up the drivers' championship with 78 points, Stoner in second with 66, and Pedrosa in third with 61. Whether the latter will be fit for his home race, in Catalonia in three weeks time, is unsure.

Meanwhile, Marc Márquez finally broke his run of bad luck in the Moto2 category, taking the win after having failed to score a single point in the first three rounds of the season. After having started the race stuck in the midfield, the young Spaniard managed to work his way up to the front, eventually finishing just 1.982 seconds ahead of Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi.

In the 125cc category, Spaniard Maverick Viñales took his maiden win, beating fellow countryman Nico Terol to the checkered flag in the final corner, winning by a margin of just 0.048 seconds.

Dani Pedrosa is sent flying in Japan in 2007
Dani Pedrosa is sent flying in Japan in 2007REUTERS
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