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Cluzel wins as Lowes, Linfoot claim podium
7 October 2012
Jules Cluzel has followed in the wheeltracks of countrymen Jeremy Guarnoni and Sylvain Guintoli by claiming a popular World Supersport Championship victory on home soil at Magny-Cours, the Frenchman concluding a fine rookie season with a fourth win of the year.
Already assured of the runners-up spot in the standings behind Kenan Sofuoglu, Cluzel sought to at least secure victory in the final round of the season in front of his home fans, an objective he fulfilled in style by leading almost the entire race.
Settling in behind Sofuoglu during the early laps, Cluzel made his bid for the lead with a pass on lap four and simply proceeded to ease his advantage out over the competition to cross the line by almost two seconds.
With Cluzel – who reportedly has offers from current team PTR Honda and champions Lorenzini Kawasaki for 2013 - going level with Sofuoglu in terms of race wins this season, his victory means Honda will finish just ahead of Kawasaki in the manufacturers' standings having notched up seven of the 13 races.
If Cluzel had an easy time out front, the battle for second place came down to a nail-biting finish as Sam Lowes and an inspired Dan Linfoot battled to keep a charging Sofuoglu behind them.
Running as high as second at one stage, Linfoot – up from 11th on the grid – was putting in the performance of his career in the slippery conditions and even though he would be overtaken by Lowes on lap ten, he remained in close company as a first WSS podium for both himself and burgeoning MSD RN Kawasaki team loomed.
However, having dropped almost eight seconds off the pace of Linfoot during a quiet mid-race phase, the ever-unpredictable Sofuoglu would find his form again in the final laps, the Turk taking advantage of the drying conditions to scythe onto the tail of Linfoot.
Coming down to a final lap showdown, little separated the pair as they braked into the Adelaide hairpin for the final time, but Sofuoglu's attempts to dive up the inside would see him clatter into the side of his fellow Kawasaki rider.
Sending the hapless – and very angry – Briton down, Sofuoglu kept going to follow Lowes home in third place across the line, while Linfoot at least got going again aboard the battered bike to secure fourth thanks to the huge margin back to fifth place Fabien Foret.
However, Linfoot's fortunes would turn around just moments after the race had finished when race direction determined Sofuoglu to be at fault for the collision and subsequently handed down a 25 second penalty. As such, Linfoot was promoted back to third, with Sofuoglu fourth.
Ignored amidst the drama going on just ahead of him, Foret's fifth place means Lowes overtakes him for third in the overall standings.
Elsewhere, Alex Baldolini picked up a strong sixth place for Suriano Triumph, while Mathew Scholtz saved his best until last to score a season's-best of seventh aboard the second of the Bogdanka-backed PTR bikes.
Andrea Antonelli finished as the top Yamaha rider in eighth place, ahead of Gabor Talmacsi and Jed Metcher, while Linfoot's team-mate Florian Marino, Balazs Nemeth, Imre Toth, Sheridan Morais and Massimo Roccoli picked up the final points between 11th and 15th.
Pole sitter Broc Parkes, meanwhile, led into the first corner but would drop back quickly before taking a trip to the pit lane.
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