It’s a little-known fact that in recent years, the heavens have opened and played havoc in WorldSBK French visit – with a storm brewing this weekend, more of the same is on the horizon…
The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has had absolutely everything – last lap battles, incredibly close finishes, seven different winners, new podium achievers and an absolute brawl for the Championship; the only thing that’s missing is a wet race. Well, with this being France and the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, don’t think that it’s out of the question. The rain is forecast but we’re going to take a throwback; five of the best races at Magny-Cours where the weather has played a part.
OK, so this race wasn’t actually wet, nor had it rained just before the race. However, on Friday and early Saturday morning, it had rained and that meant that riders were left out of position on the grid after Superpole and everyone had a gun-powder setup with almost no dry running. An upside-down grid, with little dry track time and a Championship on the line in WorldSBK’s 800th race, it was an absolute barn-stormer right from the start. Passing with brutal force, crashes and eventually, a final lap shoot-out between Kawasaki duo Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea all made for one of the most memorable races in the history of the Championship. In the end, Razgatlioglu pounced on Rea to give Turkey a first win, a spectacular achievement for the growing-in-stature superstar.
The 2013 season had been a classic fight from the start and was one of the most incredible seasons that the Championship had seen. However, Tom Sykes was in the driving seat for Kawasaki and in Race 2, Magny-Cours craziness struck again. Dark clouds gathered for a race that started dry, with the Aprilia’s of Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty squabbling behind Sykes for second – both in the race and in the Championship. On Lap 17, Laverty took second at Turn 5 from Guintoli before the Frenchman responded two laps later. However, now the rain was pouring down as the race came to a close and with Sykes leading by 11 seconds over the Aprilias, it’d be Guintoli and Laverty who crashed out in separate incidents at Turn 5 just yards apart. The race was Red-Flagged, the results stood as of the last complete lap and Sykes extended his Championship lead.
The 2012 season had been wacky from the get-go and coming into last final round of the year, it was all about Max Biaggi vs Tom Sykes. However, history was made in France in Race 1 as Sylvain Guintoli came from the second row. It was poor start from the Frenchman, but the drama unfolded ahead of him as Championship leader Max Biaggi crashed at Turn 5, whilst Jonathan Rea took the lead from Tom Sykes on Lap 5. On Lap 13, the Ulsterman crashed out before Sykes was caught by a charging Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Guintoli eased to victory, the first ever French winner at Magny-Cours.
There was an intriguing dynamic in 2014 as Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes fought for the title: their teammates were needed to help out. Marco Melandri in Guintoli’s court, Loris Baz in Sykes’. But, Melandri had already relinquished a race win in the first outing and wasn’t about to let a second one slip away. Pulling away, he denied Guintoli a home double – much to the anger of Aprilia and the partisan French crowd. With Sykes home in fourth, the title race had ignited in the rain for Magny-Cours, with 2014’s round going down in WorldSBK history as one of the most tactical yet.
2016’s first race actually started off wet and with the Championship still very much up for grabs, it looked like a perfect race-long battle. However, that sprinkle of rain never came again and soon the track dried out, igniting the fire of the Championship further. Sykes led Rea, Nicky Hayden, Michael van der Mark and staggeringly, the MV Agusta of Leon Camier was also in the mix. Chaz Davies, a title contender was down in 12th but he was on an intermediate front and rear tyre, which would come to him later on. With 10 laps to go, Sykes and Rea pitted for a mix of intermediates and dries but it didn’t matter; Davies had stayed out on the tyres he started with to take one of the most incredible victories of his career.
With bad weather at Magny-Cours this year, will more drama await? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!