Aruba Ducati’s Chaz Davies got closer to second place in the WorldSBK title chase with victory in an incident-packed second race at Magny-Cours which saw newly-crowned champion Jonathan Rea retire on lap two.
Davies bagged the win with a three-second advantage after taking the lead from Alex Lowes on lap four and cleared off as Sykes struggled with his injured hand on a dry track and was unable to do anything about the pace of the Panigale man. Davies now has a nine-point deficit to Sykes with four races left to run.
But there was chaos at the hairpin on the second lap as Eugene Laverty crashed right in front of Rea and the Kawasaki man clipped the rear of the sliding Milwaukee Aprilia, ripping off his rearset and brake lever, and damaging his right toes.
Rea was already suffering with the shoulder he injured in a qualifying crash and was riding with heavy strapping and the Laverty collision meant the Isle of Man resident decided enough was enough. However, Kawasaki managed to wrap up the manufacturers’ title anyway.
Davies, meanwhile, quickly opened a gap over Lowes who was passed for second by MV Agusta’s Leon Camier shortly after he lost the lead. The Pata Yamaha man wasn’t able to live with his fellow former BSB champion but an engine failure for Camier with 11 left meant Camier’s maiden podium for MV again went begging.
The retirement put Lowes back into second place but by then he had team-mate Michael van der Mark for company. The pair went at it hammer and tongs but Lowes was able to find half a second a lap to pull a two-second gap and secure a double podium for Paul Denning’s mob.
While all this was going on, spots of rain was falling all around the circuit but not heavily enough for anyone to pit for inters or wets.
Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores had a lonely race for fourth place while Lorenzo Savadori got the better of Marco Melandri for fifth place until his Milwaukee Aprilia gave up on the very last lap. The retirement elevated Melandri to fifth after he won a titanic scrap with Tati Mercado.
Sykes finished in seventh and 22 seconds off the lead, with a second in hand over Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres. Roman Ramos and Raffale De Rosa completed the top ten with Davide Giugliano and Jake Gagne next along.