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Tom Sykes has laid down the gauntlet for his rivals ahead of Superpole at Magny-Cours after defying a low speed tumble to go fastest in FP4.

The reigning champion, who brings a 31 point lead into the penultimate round of the 2014 WSBK season, struck to the front early on, his time of 1min 37.577secs holding steady until the end of the session.

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This was despite Sykes sliding off his Kawasaki at the final corner chicane, the British rider prompting a red flag but walking away unharmed.

Despite looking capable of overhauling his rival at one point in the session, Marco Melandri had a poor final sector to blame for having to settle for second place, the Italian leading FP3 pace setter and team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea, Davide Giugliano and Eugene Laverty.

Ahead of their battle to get into SP2 via SP1, Loris Baz and Toni Elias were seventh and eighth fastest, with Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes rounding out the top ten.

Meanwhile, EVO series leader David Salom could be a doubt for Superpole, the Spaniard appearing to hurt himself after being flung into a high-side. Though he was able to collect the high-side and stay on board, he would promptly pull off, seemingly suffering with being winded and clutching his already injured hand.