Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu finally popped his WorldSBK victory cherry, pinching the race-one win from Jonathan Rea with only five corners left after a thriller in France.
The Turkish rider started from 16th on the grid and made his way through the pack - taking advantage of a crash from leader Michael van der Mark - to start the last lap with a second gap to Rea.
With little track time to find a perfect race set-up after Friday and Saturday wet sessions, the fortunes of the top riders waxed and waned as the laps counted down.
After some incredibly tough passes and frequent overtakes in the early laps, Michael van der Mark (Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took the lead for most of the race but suffered heartbreak when he fell with a few laps to go, trail braking into turn 15 after showing signs of serious rear tyre wear. The Dutchman, unlike most of the rest of the field, had used the development front Pirelli and it served him well.
Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) then looked the most likely race winner but Razgatlioglu passed him on the final lap, into the slow hairpin, and then took an eventual quarter-second advantage over the finish line.
Rea scored second, and in a final niggly battle between old team-mates Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad ) took the podium advantage over Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) for third place. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fifth, struggling at times but still moving up from 14th on the grid to the top five.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was sixth, the returning Leon Camier (Moriwaki-Althea Honda Racing Team) a fine seventh, Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) eighth, Eugene Laverty (Team GoEleven Ducati) ninth and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) tenth.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) were non-finishers after separate falls. Davies tried to pass Razgatlioglu inside and the two clashed entering Turn 15, with Davies falling and being unable to restart.
Haslam crashed nearer the end as he got too much air time over the final chicane rumple strips.