Scott Redding charged to victory in a wet World Superbike race at the Magny-Cours circuit on Sunday to take the championship fight to the final round of the season at Estoril.
Having won the opening two races of the weekend at the French venue, Jonathan Rea only needed to finish inside the top three to ensure he headed to the season finale with an unassailable margin of 62 points.
Rea was in a prime position to achieve that feat, having qualified on pole position with Redding starting outside the front row in fourth.
However, Redding was in a league of his own in the opening stages of the race, passing Michael van der Mark at the Adelaide hairpin on the opening lap before reeling in second-placed Alex Lowes at Turn 1 on the following tour.
On lap 3, Redding lunged up the inside of Rea at the Turn 9 hairpin, forcing the Kawasaki off the racing line and clinching the lead in the process.
Second place should have been enough for Rea to seal the title, but the 33-year-old appeared to struggle for pace on a drying track and ran wide at several corners, allowing first Loris Baz and then Redding’s Ducati teammate Chaz Davies to pass him and demote him to fourth by lap 14.
Rea tried to fight back in the final five laps and brought the deficit to Davies under a second, but a mistake on Turn 1 on the penultimate tour allowed the Ducati rider to open up a gap once again.
Rea closed the gap back again on the final lap, but not sufficiently enough to attempt a move, the two crossing the line just six tenths apart after 21 laps of racing.
With Redding enjoying an untroubled run to the flag since claiming the lead on lap 3, the Ducati rider managed to delay Rea’s title coronation until the Estoril finale.
Rea, however, will still head to Portugal with a sizeable margin of 59 points, with only 62 on offer across the three races.
Between winner Redding and the battling duo of Davies and Rea, Baz finished as the top independent rider in second on the Ten Kate Yamaha, scoring a third consecutive podium finish of the weekend.
Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark finished seven seconds off the lead in fifth, while Michael Ruben Rinaldi – who ran as high as second in the early stages of the race – was sixth on the Go Eleven Ducati.
Lowes eventually finished down in seventh on the second works Kawasaki, ahead of GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff and the factory M1 of Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Tom Sykes rounded out the top 10 for BMW, while the Hondas of Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista scrapped for minor points, finishing 13th and 15th respectively.
Race 2 results:
|5||60||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha||7.409|
|6||21||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati||16.505|
|View full results|
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