Tom Sykes moved a step closer to becoming Superbike World Champion with a superbly judged victory in race one at Magny Cours. The Kawasaki rider led from start to finish with Sylvain Guintoli unable to keep pace, the Frenchman lying two seconds back when the red flags halted proceedings four laps early.
Guintoli’s best chance of taking the fight to Sykes was to get his nose in front but Tom made a terrific start to reach turn one first while Guintoli fended off the Althea Aprilia of Davide Giugliano. Eugene Laverty was also caught up in a battle with the Italian and it would take the Irishman five laps to get the better of him as the pair revisited their thrilling battle from Laguna Seca. Laverty would finally edge ahead at the Adelaide hairpin but the front two were already five seconds up the road, consigning Eugene to a lonely ride in third.
Guintoli kept the gap to Sykes below a second in the early stages but the longer the race lasted, the more it swung in Tom’s favour and when Mark Aitchison highsided his Pedercini Kawasaki at the 180 corner, spilling fuel on the track, the battle was called off by the red flags and Sykes was declared the winner by 2.1 seconds. Laverty took third ahead of Giugliano while Marco Melandri’s title hopes were all but extinguished by his inability to finish higher than fifth. BMW’s miserable start to the day was compounded by an early crash for Chaz Davies at Chateaux d’eau.
A manic fight for sixth raged all race long with Michele Pirro coming out on top on his first appearance for Alstare Ducati while the PATA Hondas of Michel Fabrizio and Leon Haslam too seventh and eight ahead Ayrton Badovini’s Panigale. SBK debutant Vincent Philippe should have been in the thick of the action too but was taken out by an errant Toni Elias while running tenth, slipping in the end to thirteenth.