With Sete Giberneau on pole position, bright sunny skies and a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the weather could not have been better at the Le Mans circuit in France.
Le Mans, in the Bugatti configuration, is not a very technical track; it is more of a stop-and-go, drag race track. Power and braking stability are key here.
Checa got the hole shot, followed by Giberneau, Biaggi, Rossi and Edwards. Within in a lap, though, Rossi went to work on Biaggi and took over third place.
The race was immediately more exciting for Hopkins, Abe and Hodgson, as the first lap saw all three crash out of the race.
Early in the race, Rossi appeared to have traction problems, his rear-end stepping out of line several times, and this would prove to be the card he would have to play all race long.
On lap six, Gibernau broke the circuit lap record by two seconds, while chasing race leader Checa.
Eventually the pressure put on by Gibernau caused Checa to make a mistake and he ran wide. Sete took the opportunity and the lead being handed to him. Farther back, the battle for third ensued with Biaggi passing Rossi on the front straight to take third from his Italian compatriot.
Quickly, the Roman Emperor went to work on Checa with only 9 laps left. But the pace must have been too high, as the Biaggi had to jump the chicane in order to save the bike.
Valentino Rossi finished fourth, for the second consecutive race. He was followed by Edwards, Melandri, Barros, Bayliss and Loris Capirossi rounding up the top ten.
The MotoGP championship will now move on to Mugello in two weeks.