The decision on whether to be conservative or aggressive with your choices wasn't the key in Magny-Cours rather it was just about having belief in your convictions. With a drying track Chaz Davies was one of the few riders to start the race with intermediate tires and the gamble proved worth the risk for Davies as he romped to victory.
In the early stages with a wet track Davies was a sitting duck to riders with more grip from full wet weather tires. The Welshman even said afterwards that “I was so slow that I wouldn't have been surprised if someone had hit me!”
When the track started to dry the race came to Davies and rather than being a sitting duck he became a shark and picked off his rivals. It was an inspired race by Davies who rarely seemed to have push but instead kept calm and allowed the race to come to him.
Having made his decision on the grid - based on track conditions, the increasing temperature and the knowledge that the surface doesn't dry as fast as others - the Ducati rider raced accordingly. There were precious few heroics from Davies, but with a minimum pit stop time of 45 seconds, he knew that as long as he could stay upright he had a decided advantage. The tire compounds used in the slick and intermediate tires are quite similar and for Davies this gave him even more confidence in his decision.
In the final laps Davies was able to ride with the knowledge that he had enough in hand to claim the win but the same cannot be said for other riders. Leon Camier had looked in line to claim MV Agusta's first ever podium but the long time race leader stayed out on wet tires and fell to seventh at the flag. Speaking afterwards Camier admitted that the team had made a wrong call strategically and that he had been waiting for a pit signal. The Englishman went on to explain the decision by commenting that the design of the MV makes a quick tire change very difficult and the time lost in pitting would have been more than the time lost in staying out. As a result his seventh was the best he could hope for on a day that promised more.
Michael van der Mark was on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Dutchman timed his tire switch to perfection and was rewarded with a podium finish in second. Having looked strong on the wet tires in the early laps he pitted for slicks and was immediately able to set competitive times relative to the race leaders.
When the likes of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes pitted Van der Mark was easily able to leapfrog them and open a commanding lead. This lead would dwindle as Sykes closed in, but ultimately the Kawasaki rider had waited too long to make the switch. For Sykes the race was somewhat successful as his podium finish at least allowed him to claw some points back from Rea.
It was another good day for the world championship leader with Rea able to shadow Sykes home. Having refused to gamble on the grid and use intermediate tires, despite advice from his crew chief Pere Riba, Rea rode a smart race with both eyes focused on the goal of winning the title. With five races to go Rea is more than comfortable for Sykes to take one or two points from his lead safe in the knowledge that the clock is ticking on the season.
“The battle was lost today but the war is still be won,” was how Rea summed up his race and in this battle both Rea and Davies had the belief in their decisions and were rewarded handsomely.
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