Jules Cluzel took a home World Supersport win at Magny-Cours after a last lap move on leader Niki Tuuli – while champion-elect Kenan Sofuoglu crashed out, ruling out his chances of taking his fifth title today.
French favourite Cluzel powered his MV Agusta to just his second win of the year after a calm and collected ride where he saved his best until last.
At the start, it was polesitter Sofuoglu who got the cleanest and quickest getaway, edging out three or four bike lengths in the opening corners while behind him the rest of the pack jostled for position.
American PJ Jacobsen –who had been looking strong all weekend – was the first casualty as he endured a big off from his Honda.
Brit Gino Rea got a quick start form the second row, the rider jumping up to second place. But it wasn’t to last, as a hard-charging Cluzel was on the move, passing Rea before the end of the lap to move up to second.
Rea was passed by Ayrton Badovini a lap later and things calmed down a bit as the top six settled into a train of bikes for a few laps.
Tuuli decided to start moving up on Lap eight, as he stuffed his R6 up the inside of Rea and Badovini, just nudging the Brit. Then, moments later, Rea’s race ended when he had a crash completely on his own, his GRT Racing Team MV spitting him off angrily at Turn Eight.
Up front there was now a three-way battle for the lead. Tuuli was looking desperate to pass Cluzel, and had a try on the 11th lap but ended up out-braking himself and losing out.
But things suddenly took a dramatic twist as Sofuoglu, who had looked perfectly at home out front, crashed his Kawasaki Puccetti Racing machine at Turn Three on the 12th lap. He had needed to simply finish ahead of team-mate Randy Krummenacher today to claim his fifth title, but now he will have to wait.
Cluzel was now out in front, but that lasted just a few more corners as he made a mistake, allowing Tuuli to slide through and into the lead.
From there, Tuuli led the pack all the way to the final lap. Badovini enjoyed some place swapping with the San Carlo Team Kawasaki of Axel Bassani, but it was the Gemar Balloons Team Lorini man who got the better in the end to move up to third and stay there.
As the last lap began it looked like Tuuli was going to take his maiden win at a track he’d never seen before Wednesday, but Cluzel wasn’t about to allow that without a fight. All it took was one move and he was through, and while the young Tuuli tried his best there was no way he was getting past Cluzel at home.
The Frenchman took his second win of the year while Tuuli crossed the line second ahead of Badovini with Bassani fourth.
Krummenacher finished fifth ahead of Federico Caricasulo on the Bardahl Evan Bros Honda while Kyle Smith was the highest placed Brit, riding his CIA Landlord Insurance Honda to a strong seventh.
Illia Mykhalchyk was eighth aboard the DS Junior Team Kawasaki, ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti’s MV and Zulfahmi Khairuddin who rounded out the top 10.
Britain’s Kyle Ryde was 11th on the Schmidt Racing Kawasaki, Luke Stapleford took 15th with his Profile Racing Triumph and Smith’s team-mate Stefan Hill crossed the line 24th.