Troy Bayliss has wrapped up the 2008 World Superbike Championship in his swansong season after a comfortable ride to third in the first race at Magny-Cours.
Bayliss needed just to keep both Troy Corser
and Noriyuki Haga
in sight in order to secure the crown three races in advance. It was an easy task though because while Haga went on to win the race, Corser could only finish sixth.
His third World Championship win, the triumph is all the more poignant as Bayliss prepares to bring the curtain down on an illustrious motorbike career, one that he has ensured will glitter right up to its climax next month in Portugal.
The race itself didn't quite go Bayliss' way as an early lead gave way to an eventual third place finish behind Haga and a charging Fonsi Nieto.
The Aussie rider got away quickly from third on the grid, slipping into the quick first left-hander ahead of Nieto and Haga, although the Japanese rider would get the better of his Spanish rival just a few corners later.
Haga quickly latched onto the back of Bayliss and, knowing it would be potentially dangerous to embark on a dual with a gaggle of bikes just behind, he allowed him to pass up the inside at the Adelaide hairpin.
It was a shrewd move as Haga's searing pace saw him pull away, while Bayliss was able to be dragged along with him. Nieto, meanwhile, couldn't live with the pace and was embroiled in a heated tussle with Carlos Checa, team-mate Max Neukirchner, Troy Corser
and Michel Fabrizio.
Checa got past on lap three, initially passing at Adelaide before Nieto punished him for running wide on the exit by overtaking again. However, the Honda was through again before the end of the lap with a neat move at Lycee.
Checa did rally for some time, gradually reeling in the top two riders just as Bayliss was beginning to lose ground on Haga. Far from relaxing, Haga was riding his Yamaha visibly hard as he struggled for grip around the chilly French circuit.