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Jules Cluzel has denied Sam Lowes a World Supersport victory on home soil after prevailing in an exciting battle that very nearly ended with a collision on the final corner.
A battle that built in momentum from start-to-finish, Cluzel trailed Lowes for almost the entire race, but his threatening lines during the second-half suggested he was holding back and waiting until the very final lap to pounce on his PTR counterpart.
As it happens, Lowes's defence, which had been stern over repeated laps, was stymied by a small wobble as he entered the Hangar Straight for the final time, handing the momentum to Cluzel, who simply drafted past into Stowe.
However, the fight wasn't over and when Cluzel's tight line into the final corner chicane sent him wide into the long right-hander leading onto the finishing straight, Lowes went for a small gap. Cluzel closed the door, prompting the two to make fairly solid contact, but both would stay upright with the Frenchman crossing the line in first position, ahead of a disgruntled Lowes.
A frustrating blow to Lowes's title hopes, the Briton was looking to make the most of arch rival Kenan Sofuoglu's first lap error that dropped him out of front-running contention. Sofuoglu, who ran wide at Brooklands on the opening revolution, recovered to fifth, but the damage to his series lead has been limited to just nine points, instead of 14.
Broc Parkes completed the podium, the Australian performing well to charge from 18th on the grid as he came out top of a race-long tussle with Ronan Quarmby on another of the PTR prepared Hondas.
Sofuoglu bounced back to fifth, keeping his lead in the standings at a comfortable 14 points, while Fabien Foret and Sheridan Morais overcame qualifying difficulties to cross the line in sixth and seventh.
Alex Baldolini kept the points ticking over for Suriano Triumph in eighth, ahead of Andrea Antonelli and Gabor Talmacsi, the latter dropping back having run as high as fifth at one stage.
Outside the top ten, Mathew Scholtz scored his first points since the season opener in 11th, though the front row starter will have been frustrated not to finish higher after a crash on the opening lap of the first start – which was red flagged due to spots of rain – to what was an impressive fight back from the pit lane.
Roberto Tamburini, Vittotio Iannuzzo, Romain Lanusse and Raffaele de Rosa completed the points' paying positions from 12th to 15th.