Magny-Cours WSBK: Rea beats Sykes to win wet opening race
New World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea overhauled teammate Tom Sykes to lead home a Kawasaki one-two in a wet first race at Magny-Cours.
The Ulsterman, who clinched the crown at the previous round at Jerez, reeled in long-time leader Sykes and made the decisive move at the 180° hairpin with three laps to go to clinch his 13th win of the year.
Sykes had surged from ninth on the grid to lead the early stages, going around the outside of Rea at the Adelaide hairpin on the third lap and opening up a three second gap out front.
But the Yorkshire-born rider began to struggle with rear tyre grip in the tricky conditions, allowing Rea to close in.
With five laps remaining, just 1.1s separated the two Kawasaki riders, and with three laps to go, Rea briefly put his nose ahead at Adelaide before sealing the deal at 180° as Sykes ran wide.
In just two-and-a-half laps, Rea managed to put 4.7s between himself and Sykes when the chequered flag fell.
Behind the Kawasaki duo, outgoing champion Sylvain Guintoli was able to break free of a major squabble for 'best of the rest' honours, taking a first podium finish of the season aboard his PATA Honda - albeit almost 15 seconds down on Rea.
Michael van der Mark made it two Honda riders in the top four, briefly leading teammate Guintoli before a major out-of-the-seat moment dropped him to fourth, where he would go on to finish.
Leon Camier took the underdeveloped MV Agusta to an impressive fifth place finish, ahead of Chaz Davies' Ducati, which gradually slipped down the order having held second behind Rea in the opening laps.
Matteo Baiocco (Ducati) took a creditable seventh ahead of Alex Lowes (Suzuki), while the Ducatis of Leandro Mercado and fading front-row starter Niccolo Canepa completed the top 10.
Aprilia's Leon Haslam, meanwhile, had a disastrous race from pole, holding third in the early stages before beginning a slow descent down the order. He finished a lapped 16th after needing to make a tyre change at mid-distance.
|4||Michael van der Mark||Honda||22.772|
|5||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||30.136|
|16||Leon Haslam||Aprilia||1 Lap|
|17||Gabor Rizmayer||BMW||1 Lap|
|18||Christophe Ponsson||Kawasaki||1 Lap|
|19||Alex Phillis||Kawasaki||1 Lap|
|20||Imre Toth||BMW||1 Lap|
|21||Markus Reiterberger||BMW||2 Laps|
|Ret||Randy de Puniet||Suzuki|
Haslam splashes his way to French Superpole win
Magny-Cours WSBK: Rea beats Davies to victory in second race