Magny-Cours, France – Chaz Davies pulled off the fifth double win of his World Superbike career under difficult conditions at a wet-and-dry Circuit de Nevers, while Honda’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ Michael van der Mark showed his mastery of the mixed conditions in Race 1 by relegating the factory Kawasakis that have dominated the series to third and fourth.
MV Agusta’s local hero, Jules Cluzel, gave the home fans something to cheer about as he took a hard-fought win in the 600cc race after Kawasaki’s Supersport king, Kenan Sofuoglu,
Rea took the holeshot from pole, leading into the first corner with team-mate Tom Sykes hot on his tail, while Van der Mark found grip on the outside where no one else could to make up two positions, closely followed by team-mate Nicky Hayden. By the end of the first lap, However, Sykes had taken the advantage from his team-mate as the two Hondas closed in.
As the battle heated up at the front between the two Kawasakis and the two Hondas, MV Agusta rider Leon Camier quietly closed in. With his bike running perfectly, he reeled in the leaders within a couple of laps and easily pulled away in the lead.
By lap seven, however, the track was almost dry and Hayden was the first into the pits for a tyre change, followed a few laps later by the Kawasaki pair, who were struggling for grip on the drying track.
Camier’s stint at the top was short lived as Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori was first to catch him before a rush of activity in the closing laps saw Davies eventually catch up to and take the lead from the Savadori.
Once in front, Davies was unstoppable and went on to win by nine seconds from Van der Mark, who stayed consistent throughout the race, while Sykes and Rea, pushing hard to make up for time lost changing tyres, finished third and fourth respectively.
Savadori eventually came in fifth ahead of the first Frenchman home, Mattieu Lagrive on a Pedercini Kawasaki. Camier finished seventh after his intermediate tires eventually lost their grip on the dry track, while Ducati privateer Xavi Fores was eighth, ahead of Yamaha factory rider Sylvain Guintoli and veteran Alex De Angelis on the second works Aprilia
Sunday’s race was run in almost perfect conditions as Rea once again outdragged the field into Turn 1, with Davies right behind, only for Sykes to swoop around on the second corner to steal the lead and pull away while Davies took second, leaving Camier and Van der Mark to fight it out for fourth.
Sykes was unbeatable, setting a new lap record early on as he put seconds between Davies and team-mate Rea – but it wasn’t long before Rea slipped passed Davies to begin closing on Sykes.
The final five laps saw an intense battle break out as the two Kawasakis swopped the lead on almost every lap, with many tight overtaking moves keeping French fans on the edge of their seats.
Then, with only a couple of laps to go, Davies took advantage of an almost impossible move by Sykes on Rea, and dived through the opening, quickly pulling ahead to take the double by two seconds.
Camier eventually beat Van der Mark to fourth, relegating Savadori to sixth, while Jordi Torres on a works BMW came out on top of a three-way battle for seventh with Guintoli and Hayden (the three finished in that order within less than a second) and Fores completed the top 10.
Multiple World Supersport champion – and defending title-holder – Kenan Sofuoglu grabbed the hole shot to lead into Turn 1, as MV Agusta rider Gino Rea stormed past the pack of riders bunched into the first corner to take second.
Top Honda contender PJ Jacobsen crashed out on the opening lap, justy before Rea’s team-mate Mchael Canducci skittled Alessandro Zaccone’s Kawasaki at the Adelaide Hairpin to hold up the riders behind.
Sofuoglu pushed ahead at the front trying to put space between him and his rivals but couldn’t get away from Cluzel, who’d passed Rea for second and wasn’t about to lose touch with the leader.
It took Niki Tuuli a few laps to get to grips with the circuit track but once he did the young Finn took the challenge straight to the front, putting pressure on both Cluzel and Sofuoglu. Not long after, Rea pushed too hard on the entry to Estoril on lap eight and was flicked off his bike, ending his race early.
Then on lap 12 disaster struck as Sofuoglu, who was in a position to clinch his fifth world championship, crashed out in Turn 3 and Tuuli instantly took advantage of the momentary confusion to get in front of Cluzel and take the lead.
Cluzel, with his home crowd cheering him on, struck back instantly. The last lap was a cliff-hanger, but it was the local leader who was ahead by a quarter of a second when it counted, with Ayrton Badovini’s privateer Honda another quarter-second further back.
Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki) fought hard, finishing fifth to keep the championship alive, coming home ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Honda), Kyle Smith (Honda), Ilia Mikhalchyk (Kawasaki) and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta) with Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Kawasaki) rounding out the top 10.