Rain at Magny-Cours could play a part in determining the championship, but it will most likely push the decider to the last round. Sylvain Guintoli on provisional pole, after a title-scuppering brace of fifth places at Laguna Seca, needs to beat both Tom Sykes and his own teammate Eugene Laverty if he’s to lift the trophy at the end of the year, and it’s not easy to see from today’s form if that is on the cards, but his fast time came after only six laps on slicks and it’s not known how his shoulder injury will affect the race. If nothing else, Laverty and Guintoli could clinch the manufacturer’s title for Aprilia this weekend.
Tom Sykes knows there are a hundred points left and that he doesn’t need all of them to be crowned champion. If he ends the weekend with a fifty point lead, that will seal the title, but to do that, he needs to beat Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli by a margin of more than one place, with the likes of Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri or Jules Cluzel between him and the Aprilias. An unlikely feat, essentially requiring one DNF from both of the Aprilia riders, as neither of them looks to be in the mood to end up off the podium. Without Loris Baz to help him, and David Salom not quick enough to make a difference, Sykes will have to go it alone.
Marco Melandri is still in with a chance at the title, but that will likely mathematically disappear at the end of the weekend if he doesn’t put in some outstanding results, finishing ahead of Sykes in both races, either with a double victory or by more than two places in each race.
The four riders in with a chance at the title all know what they need to do, but essentially, it comes down to winning races. This weekend, with unpredictable weather and potential from Suzuki for good results, with Jules Cluzel and fellow frenchman Vincent Philippe, the eight-time endurance world champion sitting in for Leon Camier, both comfortable at Magny-Cours. Davide Giugliano may be under some pressure from Aprilia to assist the factory riders, but it remains to be seen if they have carrots or sticks enough to convince him to help.
Ducati don’t look like they’re going to make a difference to the title chase, with Michel Pirro, replacing the injured Carlos Checa, and Ayrton Badovini likely to qualify for Superpole 1, but not much beyond that. Honda’s Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio had an equally tumultuous time, even though Fabrizio is on a familiar track for the first time on this Honda.
The World Supersport title is a different matter. Sam Lowes needs to score one point to win the championship. While he is likely to push his rival Kenan Sofuoglu, neither man being the kind to settle for second place, Sofuoglu’s reputation for occasional over-exuberance could temper the champion elect, opting for a certain title over a possible race win.