James Toseland will take a 5-point lead over Ducati Fila team-mate Regis Laconi into the final race of the 2004 World Superbike season, after winning a tense race one at Magny Cours, just ahead of Noriyuki Haga, with Laconi third.
Having led for the first few turns, pole sitter Troy Corser faded to the tail of the lead group until eventually retiring with mechanical problems, while Toseland and Haga exchanged the lead up to the halfway mark, at which point the Brit took control – but was never able to pull more than one-second away from the hard charging Japanese.
Laconi moved steadily through the order and remained in touch with the top two until the last two laps, when he appeared to settle for third.
Meanwhile, Chris Vermeulen's championship hopes have disappeared after his Ten Kate Honda suffered mechanical problems just before half race distance, while holding fourth. However, the Australian didn't look to have the speed to challenge the top three.
The result means that if Laconi wins race two, with Toseland second, the pair will be tied on points - but Laconi will take the title due to more race wins.
However, if the pair finish with Laconi second and Toseland third, for example, Toseland will win the world championship.
Full race one results to follow...
Race one top 10: