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Tom Sykes has extended his lead in the World Superbike Championship standings to 29 points after producing a methodical lights-to-flag victory at Magny-Cours.

An eighth win of the season for the Kawasaki rider, Sykes would enjoy one of his less eventful runs to victory as he speared into the opening bend with the lead before steadily extending his advantage to the end of the race.

Indeed, Sykes's only pressure would come in the opening laps as an aggressive Sylvain Guintoli attempted to nose in front, but the Briton would simply break the tow within five laps before keeping the margin to his rival steady at around two seconds.

In the end, a red flag with three laps remaining - due to oil deposited by Mark Aitchison's crashed Pedercini Kawasaki - would call time on the race earlier than planned, leaving Sykes to celebrate what could well prove a pivotal win for his title campaign.

With his lead now up to 29 points over Guintoli - who jumps back ahead of Eugene Laverty for second in the standings -, Sykes can now afford to finish third in the final three races and still be crowned champion.

Almost ten seconds down the road, Eugene Laverty endured a fairly lonely run to third place, the Irishman paying for a tardy getaway that saw him lose touch with the leaders early on as he tussled with Marco Melandri and Davide Giugliano. Eventually breaking away from the chasing pack, he is now 32 points adrift of Sykes overall.

Unable to stick with Laverty, Giugliano finished fourth, well ahead of Marco Melandri, who will now need to out-score Sykes in the second race of the day to keep his and BMW's fading title hopes mathematically alive into the final round at Jerez.

A fairly drama-free race, Chaz Davies and Jules Cluzel suffered crashes early on, their demise opening up a thrilling battle for sixth position that enveloped six riders at one stage.

Eventually, Michele Pirro would break away to cross the line in that position, the Alstare Ducati rider impressing hugely on his WSBK debut as he picked his way through the group to match predecessor Carlos Checa's best finish of the season.

Behind him, Michel Fabrizio prevailed in his inter-team tussle with Pata Honda counterpart Leon Haslam to finish seventh and eighth, with Ayrton Badovini in ninth.

However, the trio were fortunate to gain two spots at the expense of Toni Elias and Vincent Philippe, who collided on lap 15 when the former lost the Aprilia on the exit of Chateaux d'Eau and collected the close-following Frenchman.

With all 15 finishers going on to claim points, Lorenzo Lanzi marked his return to WSBK competition with a solid ride to tenth place aboard the new Mesaroli Racing Ducati 1098R.

The experienced Italian would finish ahead of David Salom - suffering from two crashes in morning warm-up -, Federico Sandi, the recovering Philippe, Fabrizio Lai and Vittorio Iannuzzo.


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