Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli have both vowed to keep pushing for the 2013 World Superbike Championship title, despite losing significant ground on Tom Sykes at Magny-Cours.
Scoring a second place and third place finish apiece, the two factory Aprilia riders had no answer to a dominant Sykes over the course of the day, leaving them with a substantial mountain to climb at Jerez in two weeks' time if they are to stay involved.
Indeed, Laverty and Guintoli's determination to scrap for each available point would be typified in the second race as they embarked on an enthralling late battle for second place.
With the chequered flag looming, the pair would swap position eight times in just three laps, with tight – but clean - moves taking place at Estoril, Adelaide, 180 and Imola.
Their tussle would come to a dramatic conclusion on the final lap when they both fell separately at the Adelaide hairpin as a consequence of a sharp rain shower. However, with the red flag deployed and both riders able to return to the pit lane, they were included in the results on count-back with Laverty ahead of Guintoli.
It was a battle that Laverty admits was necessary as he fights for every available point, while Guintoli described it as 'exciting'. Either way, though both riders accept beating Sykes to the title in Spain will be difficult having now slipped 37 and 38 points adrift, they are refusing to give up just yet.
“Tom was from another planet today,” said Laverty. “I tried to keep up with him in the first laps, but he gained too much ground coming out of the slow turns. Toward the end Sylvain and I engaged in battle. I usually don't like these situations because I have a lot of respect for him and because we are still both within reach of the title, but every point is important at this stage of the season.
“I'm obviously pleased with the two results although our goal was to reduce the gap behind the leader. We made some improvements to the bike between race one and race two and I was definitely faster, but apparently it wasn't enough. Jerez will be our last chance to make a play for the Rider Championship.”
Guintoli, meanwhile, admits the fall could have repercussions on his still painful shoulder injury.
“Race two was exciting, a great battle with Eugene,” the Frenchman said. “It's a shame that we weren't able to keep up with Tom, but he was really fast . I hope I didn't do too much damage to my shoulder in the crash. Unfortunately my visor was covered with bugs and I didn't see the slippery spots on the track.
“In race one I was able to keep up without losing too much ground and in the final laps I tried to pull the pin and overtake Tom, but then the red flag came out. It's true that at Jerez it will be difficult to recover but mathematically we are still in the game so I'll be trying hard until the end to finish out this Championship properly.”