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Tom Sykes has been crowned the 2013 World Superbike Champion after securing the third place finish he needed to secure a popular title victory at Jerez, while Eugene Laverty took a dramatic last corner victory over Marco Melandri.

Sykes came into the first race of the day knowing a finish on the podium would be enough to seal the title slightly earlier than expected, regardless of what closest rival Eugene Laverty achieved.

As it happens, Sykes would endure a fairly uncomplicated race, slotting into second initially before being bumped down to third position by a charging Marco Melandri on lap two.

From here, Sykes would go fairly unchallenged, the presence of Sylvain Guintoli in fourth place prompting nothing more than a close, but steady margin between the pair all the way to the chequered flag.

Knowing nothing less than a win would likely keep his slim title hopes alive into the final race, Laverty to his credit did everything he could to keep himself involved by taking the lead from pole position into the opening bend.

However, rather than Sykes, it was Laverty that would spend the entire race under intense pressure, with Marco Melandri latching himself onto the back of the Aprilia in his quest to give BMW a win on its final WSBK appearance.

Perhaps predictably, Melandri would simply hold station behind his former team-mate with a view to pouncing in the closing stages, but when the inevitable move came on the penultimate lap at the slow turn six hairpin, it would be an aggressive effort, the Italian robustly lifting Laverty up and taking them both wide.

With Melandri leading into the final lap, an evidently incensed Laverty would nonetheless respond in an extraordinary way with an astonishing re-pass into the last corner around the outside of the man who is expected to replace him at Aprilia Racing in 2014.

His eighth win of the season, though it wasn't ultimately enough to keep the title battle alive into the final race, the 'overtake of the season' still marks a very satisfying success for the Irishman.

Not that this was ever of consequence to Sykes, who would simply cross the line a fairly lonely third in the end to seal an emotional title win.

Sykes's success makes him only the fourth British rider to win the WSBK title, following on from Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland, while he is only second in history to have achieved the feat riding a Kawasaki.

Furthermore, Sykes's win comes 20 years after Scott Russell sealed the 1993 title for the Japanese firm, the American winning five races en route to the overall crown, compared to Sykes with nine.

Somewhat forgotten amidst the drama and tension up front, Guintoli would finish in fourth place to slip 13 points behind Laverty in the fight for the runners-up spot in the standings, while Toni Elias and Davide Giugliano would ensure all four Aprilias were classified inside the top six.

Indeed, though overshadowed by Sykes's win on the Kawasaki, Aprilia has at least sealed a third manufacturers' crown in four years.

Recovering from a poor qualifying, Chaz Davies crossed the line seventh, ahead of a brave Leon Camier, while Xavi Fores and Mark Aitchison made their most of their impressive qualifying efforts to finish ninth and tenth respectively.

A fairly uneventful race with just two retirements - including Leon Haslam on the out-of-sorts Pata Honda -, Jules Cluzel was 11th, with Sylvain Barrier scoring points on his WSBK debut in 12th, while Ayrton Badovini, Max Neukirchner and Lorenzo Lanzi rounded out the top 15 on their respective Ducatis.