Huddersfield finest stormed out of the starting blocks and successfully held off the charge of rival Sylvain Guintoli of Aprilla.
From lap one it was Sykes with Guintoli hot on his heels, but the Yorkshire rider battled on ahead and, even though the Frenchman was putting in some impressive lap times, he was unable to overtake Sykes, especially as the race came to an abrupt halt after a red flag put an end to the track action with only four laps remaining.
Pedercini rider Mark Aitchinson high-sided and, even though he was unhurt, his bike caught on fire while out on the French circuit and the red flags swiftly appeared, and Sykes was declared the winner, followed by Guintoli and his team-mate Eugene Laverty, who took the final step on the podium in third.
Laverty did start off well and was in fourth on lap one, but four laps later the Irishman made a move on Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano to go into third, and that is where he remained till the red flag. He ended the race ten seconds behind the leading two riders, with Italians’ Giugliano and GoldBet BMW’s Marco Melandri rounding off the top five.
But there was a fierce three way battle for sixth between Pata Honda team-mates Leon Haslam and Michel Fabrizio and Ducati Alstare’s Michele Pirro.
In the end it was Carlos Checa’s stand-in rider Pirro who took the spoils as Haslam went wide on lap 17 and both Fabrizio and Pirro were able to take advantage of the Smalley rider’s mistake. Badovini and Lanzi rounded off the top 10.
GoldBet BMW’s Chaz Davies only lasted two laps. The Welshman’s was in sixth and made a move on team-mate Melandri to go into fifth, but the front end folded underneath him and he slid off the grid and into the gravel at Chateau d’Eau.
But Davies was not the only rider to crash, local hero, Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel crashed at Lycee but was unhurt on only his second lap.
Red Devils rider Toni Elias and Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Vincent Philippe collided and both crashed out while battling for sixth at Lycee. But even though both managed to get back on their bikes, Elias later retired to the pits.
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