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Tom Sykes will take a 37 points advantage into the final round of the 2013 World Superbike Championship after wrapping up potentially defining double victory at Magny-Cours.
A truly faultless performance by the Kawasaki rider, Sykes's dominant day was very nearly topped off by sealing the title earlier than expected, when a sharp rain shower coming into the final lap prompted both Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli to fall at the Adelaide hairpin.
Had the two riders been unable to get going again, Sykes would duly be classified as the title winner one round early. As it happens, a red flag would be deployed for safety reasons, with results counted back a lap to declare Sykes as winning from Laverty and Guintoli.
A dramatic end to a race that only came alive in the closing stages as clouds gathered over the French circuit once more, Sykes was untroubled from the lights as he dived into the opening bend with the lead.
Despite the best efforts Laverty and Guintoli to stay with him, Sykes quickly put the hammer down to multiply the margin over his rivals to lead by more than three seconds after just six laps. It was a margin that was up to 11secs before the race was canned on the final lap following a sharp shower wreaking havoc behind him.
Indeed, the change in the weather would almost prove disastrous for Aprilia as Guintoli and Laverty proceeded to engage in an enthralling battle for second position over the final laps.
Beginning with Laverty overtaking Guintoli for second place on lap 17 – duly prompting the Frenchman to cut the chicane at Nurburgring -, the two would go back-and-forth as the end of the race neared, the pair overtaking one another eight times in just three laps.
However, their tussle would come to a dramatic conclusion on the final lap when they both fell separately at the Adelaide hairpin having been caught out by the burst of rain. Fortunately for them, the ensuing red flag would see them reinstated to the results, with Laverty classified in second and Laverty third.