The Pirelli French Round saw a new WorldSBK race winner, four last-lap battles and a five-time WorldSBK Champion born…
After the rollercoaster of Portimao and the closest finish of the season, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours hosted the most spectacular, jaw-dropping weekend of the year. In fact, there’s so many moments to choose from across the weekend, it is hard to condense them down to just five. However, these are the best of the best and from first-time winners to the youngest FIM World Champion in history, the Pirelli French Round was one of the best.
Race 800 – a true classic
The 800th race in the FIM Superbike World Championship’s history would be the first race of the weekend in WorldSBK Race 1 and it certainly lived up to the fanfare. From lights-out, it was breath-taking action with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) clashing at the Adelaide Hairpin, whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) made a lightning start and was leading but it wouldn’t stay that way.
However, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) surged through the field from 16th on the grid and survived early carnage with Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) to take a last-lap victory over Jonathan Rea in what was one of the very best races in WorldSBK, filled with edge of the seat drama and hard passing. A first-time winner for Turkey, which became the 17th country to win a WorldSBK race, Toprak had done his team and his country proud, becoming the 76th different WorldSBK winner.
Doubling up in the Tissot Superpole Race
Starting from 16th place once again, Toprak Razgatlioglu would find himself leading in just three laps on Sunday morning at Magny-Cours, romping through the field in aggressive fashion. Just like in Race 1, it was another last lap shoot-out in which nothing was left on the table. The Adelaide Hairpin once again provided the action on the last lap, with Rea and Razgatlioglu slicing under each other before the Turkish star eventually got ahead with half-a-lap remaining and charged to back-to-back victories.
Five on the bounce for WorldSBK’s very own King Rea
Race 2 of the WorldSBK weekend would be pivotal, as Toprak Razgatlioglu crashed and wiped out Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) at Chateaux d’Eau, meaning that Jonathan Rea just had to win, and he would be Champion for a fifth season. That is exactly what he did, as he battled race-long with Michael van der Mark and duked it out with his Race 1 rival. But as the race neared its end, van der Mark couldn’t keep the pace and for the first time in World Superbike history, a five-time Champion was born. Jonathan Rea reigned supreme once again.
A home-hero flourishes in WorldSSP
The World Supersport Championship was on tenterhooks at Magny-Cours, with Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) and teammate Federico Caricasulo at the head of the field. But both would crash out of contention during the race and with Jules Cluzel fading, a new winner would emerge. Like in WorldSBK, the 250th FIM Supersport World Championship race was also a belter, going down to the final lap. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) duked it out with rookie Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) and on the final lap at Chateaux d’Eau, hit the front to the roar of the French crowd to take his first win of the season, whilst Viñales secured second and Spain’s first podium in over three years.
The youngest ever FIM World Champion is…
After a courageous season of smashing records and making history, Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was crowned the 2019 WorldSSP300 Champion at Magny-Cours, with a second-place finish. Three race wins put Gonzalez in the leading position right from the start and at just 17 years of age, became the youngest ever FIM World Champion. A stunning season meant that he could celebrate in style at Magny-Cours and go into the last race of the year at Losail with the pressure off.
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