Spain's rider Maverick Vinales competes on his Movistar Yamaha MOTOGP N°25 ahead of France's rider Johann Zarco on his Monster Yamaha TECH 3 MOTOGP N°5 during the MotoGP race of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix, in Le Mans, northwestern France. AFP pic
Winner Spanish's rider Maverick Vinales jubilates on the podium at the MotoGP race of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix, on May 21, 2017 in Le Mans, northwestern France. AFP pic

LE MANS: Spain's Maverick Vinales snatched victory in a thrilling French MotoGP at Le Mans on Sunday after a captivating duel with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi.

Vinales surges into the lead of the MotoGP world championship at Rossi's expense after the 38-year-old Italian slid off in the final lap as he chased the fellow Yamaha.

Local favourite Johann Zarco -- also on a Yamaha -- was second and Spain's Dani Pedrosa, of Honda, was third.

The 22-year-old Vinales said: "Incredible, incredible. I just gave my best. I saw Valentino make a mistake and I made a push after two disastrous races."

Vinales and Rossi were battling for the win throughout but stepped up their battle with three laps to go when Rossi grabbed the lead, sending the 100,000 crowd at Le Mans wild.

It looked all over, but Rossi made an uncharacteristic error to allow Vinales back into the lead, then Rossi lost control and skidded out the race when pushing hard to get his nose back in front in the closing moments.

Rossi was left distraught afterwards. - AFP

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