Kawasaki's is on course for its best World Superbike Championship season in five years after it firmed fifth position in the manufacturer standings at Magny-Cours, ahead of Honda and Suzuki.

Though the much vaunted ZX-10R hasn't quite been the consistent front runner the manufacturer was hoping, it has shown marked improvements in recent rounds, with Tom Sykes winning in the wet at the Nurburgring and running towards the front at Imola.

With one round remaining, Kawasaki has amassed 209 points, already more than it achieved in any season between 2007 and 2010, though it faces a task to surpass the 229 points it achieved in 2006 when it last won a race.

Even so, though Sykes has been considered the manufacturer's lead rider, Magny-Cours actually saw his team-mate Joan Lascorz move ahead in terms of points. Indeed, though the Spaniard hasn't finished higher than fifth this season, his greater consistency means he is nine points up on Sykes with just Portimao remaining.

"I used the same tyre as in race one but the tyre was used up more in race two," said Lascorz, who finished eighth and seventh in France. "It made things more difficult for me, the second race more so than the first. I moved up a bit in the championship and that was good.

"Overall this weekend had been less difficult than at some other circuits but the second running was definitely more difficult for me. Normally they say that the higher the temperature is the better for this tyre choice, but it did not seem like it this time."

Sykes, meanwhile, qualified well in sixth but struggled with tyre problems in race one, consigning him to tenth, before crashing on the opening lap of race two when he feel avoiding the early-braking Carlos Checa.

"We had no grip from lap one of race one, and I was surprised that the lap time was over half a second slower than we had been doing on the same tyre all weekend. Over race distance it was horrendous. Even in the sector where I had been strongest all weekend I was about eighth or ninth. I cannot get downbeat about it and I felt I could have held my own within the top four.

"For half a lap in the second race the grip was fantastic. It put me to where I knew I could perform. I was happy on that side of things but when I followed Checa into turn 14 I think he decided to brake a bit harder and square the corner off, and I fell without any warning.

"Magny Cours is probably my worst circuit on the calendar but we were right in there in almost all the sessions, so that is a positive thing to take away, no question of that."