Marco Simoncelli took the first victory of his hitherto troubled 250cc title defense by dominating in wet conditions at Le Mans.
The Gilera rider, who only had a non-start, a retirement and a third place to show for his first three races of 2009, won an opening lap battle with Hiroshi Aoyama and then cruised away from the field to win by 18 seconds.
Simoncelli's winning margin was boosted by a string of accidents in his wake.
Lukas Pesek and Gabor Talmacsi's replacement Angel Rodriguez charged to second and third on the first lap. Rodriguez surged through from 16th on the grid on the Aspar bike Talmacsi vacated following a contractual dispute this week, only to crash on lap three. Moments later his sparring partner Pesek did likewise, although unlike Rodriguez he was able to re-mount his bike and continue.
Mattia Pasini was next to hold second place, but he too fell and had to retire early on.
Thomas Luthi and Alex Debon then established themselves in second and third, with the Spanish veteran edging closer to Luthi as the race progressed.
But before he could try a move for second, Debon lost control of his bike under braking and fell, bowling Luthi over as he slid into the gravel and taking both out. Debon rejoined briefly only for a second crash to end his afternoon shortly afterwards.
That incident moved Hector Faubel up to second, just ahead of Roberto Locatelli, who was not quite able to make it a Gilera one-two.
Poleman Alvaro Bautista tumbled down the order at the start and languished in 10th until the track began to dry a little. As his confidence increased, Bautista was able to charge through to fourth, ahead of Ratthapark Willairot, who claimed his best ever result in fifth.
Aoyama ran wide on the first lap dicing with Simoncelli and never got back into the lead fight, finishing eighth behind Raffaele de Rosa and the recovering Pesek. The result means Bautista takes a one point lead over Aoyama in the standings.
In a race littered with accidents, other notable incidents saw Alex Baldolini fall when running in a strong sixth place, and leading home rider Mike di Meglio crash at the final corner on lap 10.