It looked to be three-in-a-row for Toprak Razgatlioglu after a last lap battle saw the Pata Yamaha rider victorious once again at Magny-Cours in Sunday’s Superpole race.
Jonathan Rea taking decisive action in the final lap before ultimately settling for second at the flag, his Kawasaki teammate Alex Lowes completing the podium for the first time in 12 races.
The result, however, was overturned later in the day after the Yamaha was seen to have touched the green in the final lap battle, with Rea promoted to winner.
The morning’s 10-lap sprint race got underway on 31℃ track temperatures, Rea returning to the pole position with Razgatlioglu alongside and eager to stretch his championship lead while Scott Redding was hoping the lower temperatures would give his Ducati a better chance of running at the front.
The Kawasaki held the holeshot as the lights released the 21-strong pack. Andrea Locatelli immediately making his move for third as Tom Sykes dropped back just as quickly, running seventh. Lowes was in podium contention as the first lap concluded, Razgatlioglu taking charge at the front halfway round the next.
Another strong start found Leon Haslam in fifth ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Michael van der Mark, Redding and his Honda teammate Alvaro Bautista. Chaz Davies sitting on the edge of the top-10 as Sykes continued to fade, in 12th.
The title-challengers circulated four-tenths apart after three-laps of action, Lowes a further second adrift but with almost the same in hand to Locatelli in fourth. The battle for fifth was heating up as van der Mark’s BMW attacked, the move successful at the start of lap four with Redding capitalising on the opportunity as the Honda lost two positions in succession.
Rinaldi was fading just as quickly as the Italian fell to 10th, Bautista and Davies the lucky recipients with Redding continuing his promotion through the pack. The Panigale running fifth at the halfway stage, 2.5s now the gap to Locatelli ahead.
Two laps to go and the leading pair’s battle intensified, Rea firmly on the wheels of the R1 but struggling to find a way through. The Kawasaki forced its way through at the Imola chicane on the final lap but the Turk was far from done, stealing the victory two corners from the line. Lowes came home in third, albeit five-seconds back, for his first podium since his home round at Donington Park, Locatelli and Redding completing the top-five.
Van der Mark came home in sixth ahead of a great midfield battle which saw saw Bautista from Davies, with a final gap developing to Haslam in ninth. Four riders chased him over the finish line in close order, the nearest being Aruba Ducati’s Rinaldi.