Qualifying for the last race weekend of the season is done and all that's left now is to race. Tom Sykes or Sylvain Guintoli will be crowned champion in a matter of hours.
So far, the advantage is, as it has been for much of the year, with Tom Sykes, with the Englishman getting his Kawasaki on the front row, but the momentum is with Sylvain Guintoli, having pulled 125 points in the last six races to Sykes's 94. The Frenchman was only able to get his Aprilia onto the second row.
After Magny Cours, it's clear that their teammates, both of whom are off to MotoGP next year, have roles to play, and in this respect Loris Baz has been at the sharp end all weekend while Marco Melandri has been suffering from a lack of pace, ending up in the first Superpole session, usually the preserve of the Evo class, and Baz out-qualified his teammate Sykes, sharing the front row with him and pole-sitter Davide Giugliano. Advantage once more to Sykes, although Melandri has 120 points to Baz's 46 from the last three weekends.
As the race is the first World Superbike night race, the experience advantage has to go to Guintoli as he has raced at Qatar under the floodlights while Sykes has only raced here in the daytime. With only 12 points between them, this could easily go down to the last race.
Davide Giugliano took pole position the only way he knows how, showing more faith in his electronics than seems healthy. While this has served him well with qualifying, netting him two pole positions this year, it has also given him seven DNFs. His Ducati teammate Chaz Davies qualified in fourth place, aiming to keep Leon Haslam, who qualified sixth, from passing him in the championship standings.
Haslam's teammate Jonathan Rea has been on pace for a front row start all weekend, but while putting in a fast lap on his qualifying tyre, he lost the front at turn seven and ended his qualifying with only a race tyre lap on the charts. Luckily, his pace was enough to secure him seventh place.
Eugene Laverty missed track time, with his bike not letting him record a lap in either of the last two practice sessions. In spite of this, he qualified for superpole two and got ninth position behind a lacklustre Marco Melandri. Laverty's teammate Alex Lowes qualified in eleventh, behind Toni Elias who hampered Lowes's qualifying to the point Lowes ended up in the gravel. Geoff May had his, and EBR's, first taste of superpole today, qualifying in nineteenth place.
In World Supersport, Jules Cluzel stamped his intentions on second place in the title all over his nocturnal pole position, qualifying ahead of newly crowned champion Michael van der Mark and the Dutchman's teammate Lorenzo Zanetti. Film Wilairot, contesting both Moto2 and World Supersport, led the fourth row ahead of Jack Kennedy and the wildcarding French Supersport champion Lucas Mahias.
By the end of the weekend, either Sylvain Guintoli or Tom Sykes will be world champion and we will say farewell to Baz, Melandri and Laverty as they head off to MotoGP next year. Before that, however, we have races to enjoy.