Clouds loomed over a dry race at Magny-Cours as the last Superbike race of the weekend was started.
Tom Sykes once again led from the start, with Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli behind him. Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri continued their race one battle for fourth place behind them.
As Sykes set fastest lap after fastest lap, the Aprilias in second and third place had to watch as Sykes just increased the gap, over and over. Michelle Pirro ended his weekend low-siding Carlos Checa’s Ducati after a respectable weekend’s effort.
Marco Melandri, trying to pass Davide Giugliano, had his engine cut out, forcing him to relinquish his position and run off the track. He got his engine restarted and was able to rejoin, a considerable number of places back. Leon Haslam also suffered from a mechanical problem as his rear wheel locked and he had to retire, parking the bike off the track.
Nine laps into the 23-lap race, Sylvain Guintoli took second place off Eugene Laverty. Laverty was able to maintain the same pace as Guintoli as Sykes increased the gap to over five seconds. Shortly after, Vittorio Iannuzzo and Michel Fabrizio crashed out in unrelated incidents as David Salom went wide, sparking fears of rain, but as yet, they were unfounded.
Tom Sykes built a respectable seven second gap at the front as Marco Melandri clawed a few places back into the top ten. At this point, Eugene Laverty made a play for second place and Sylvain Guintoli instantly fought back, missing the corner and making good use of the track’s impressive run-off, losing only half a second in the process, a time he was able to quickly seize back.
Five laps from the end, Sylvain Guintoli set the crowd alight by retaking second place and sparking a fight that would not relent from here to the end.
Tom Sykes didn’t have a lap where his gap didn’t increase, and victory seemed almost certain, but as Laverty and Guintoli started taking lumps out of each other, passing four or five times a lap, white flags started appearing in the riders’ peripheries.
Rain finally broke with two laps to go.
And contenders would fall.
On the 23nd lap, with white flags out, Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty would fight hard for second place in both the race and the championship. Pushing as hard as they deemed safe, limits of adhesion were reached. With Laverty ahead of him, Guintoli fell, overcooking the front trying to catch his teammate. Ahead of him, Laverty lost the rear, crashing out as well.
At this rate, if Sykes finished, the championship would be his. However, fate would ensure that the title fight would wait until the last round as the red flags came out.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes won the race ahead of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, all three riders able to get to Parc Fermé.
Tom Sykes leaves France with a thirty seven point lead, ahead of Eugene Laverty, with Sylvain Guintoli just one point behind. Marco Melandri, seventy two points from the leader, is no longer in the running for the title but is secure in fourth place.
What was, for the most part, a precessional race, with Sykes faster than the riders behind him every lap, was made exciting by the Aprilia teammates proving that, unlike last year, there were no team orders.
|1||66||T. SYKES||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'37.932||291,9|
|2||58||E. LAVERTY||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||11.091||1'38.685||295,1|
|3||50||S. GUINTOLI||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||11.337||1'38.582||291,1|
|4||34||D. GIUGLIANO||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||23.008||1'39.119||291,1|
|5||19||C. DAVIES||BMW S1000 RR||25.724||1'39.278||289,5|
|6||52||V. PHILIPPE||Suzuki GSX-R1000||34.762||1'39.561||276,9|
|7||33||M. MELANDRI||BMW S1000 RR||36.219||1'39.259||291,1|
|8||24||T. ELIAS||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||40.957||1'39.936||288,8|
|9||57||L. LANZI||Ducati 1098R||43.713||1'40.093||279,8|
|10||86||A. BADOVINI||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||53.188||1'40.268||276,2|
|11||44||D. SALOM||Kawasaki ZX-10R||56.251||1'40.431||275,5|
|12||8||M. AITCHISON||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'04.048||1'41.263||271,4|
|13||23||F. SANDI||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'04.243||1'41.128||274,1|
|14||16||J. CLUZEL||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'10.346||1'39.885||286,5|
|15||32||F. LAI||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||1'29.441||1'41.859||282,7|
|RET||84||M. FABRIZIO||Honda CBR1000RR||8 Laps||1'40.102||273,4|
|RET||31||V. IANNUZZO||BMW S1000 RR||9 Laps||1'42.524||263,4|
|RET||91||L. HASLAM||Honda CBR1000RR||14 Laps||1'39.880||275,5|
|RET||51||M. PIRRO||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||19 Laps||1'40.819||264,7|