Jonathan Rea has conceded switching to intermediate tyres in his pit stop rather than pushing for slicks lost him the chance to battle back to the rostrum but was content with fourth place as damage limitation in the World Superbike title battle.
Targeting title rival Tom Sykes, the defending champion pitted on the same lap as his Kawasaki team-mate with the Magny-Cours track drying out, forcing riders on the wets to stop for dry tyres.
Not wanting to risk his chances for points Rea opted for intermediates while Sykes switched to slicks which enabled the Yorkshire rider to breakaway and take third.
However, having scythed up the order to fourth on the final lap Rea only conceded three points in the title race to ensure he keeps a healthy 44-point advantage heading into race two at the French round.
“It was a race of strategy today and unfortunately we were not on the winning one,” Rea said. “The bike was working OK and in the first part of the race I was patient, just marking time behind Tom. Our main opposition right now is Tom so when he was on rain tyres it made the decision of when to come into the pits much easier.
“I am just a little bit disappointed in myself for not being clear to ask for slick tyres at the pit stop. I did not have complete confidence and I expected the intermediate would last much longer, as the track was taking a long time to dry. When I saw that he had exited from the pit stop with slick tyres it was very difficult to find the same edge grip as the slick tyres had.
“All in all, I am happy, because we made some mistakes today but we finished fourth in the race and did not lose too many points. Being the championship leader we had to adopt the more conservative option today, rather than the more aggressive one.”