Rea’s biggest threat arrives from Sykes, who suffered a broken finger during a free practice crash at Portimao. Sykes has won three-straight times at the French WSBK circuit, claiming race 2 in 2012 and both races in 2013, the year he took his only World Superbike title. He also holds the pole, race and circuit lap records.
“I had a successful operation and now we are doing things on the medical side to make it as comfortable as possible for me to ride this weekend,” Tom Sykes says. “We will play it by ear and on Friday we’ll try to build up to the full weekend of racing. Magny Cours is a circuit I generally enjoy. It is not a flowing circuit in terms of lots of lean angle, but it is a circuit where it changes direction though chicanes and has some stop-and-start areas.”
Sykes is one of two riders who can take the title from Rea; the other is last year’s double-race winner Davies. The Welshman crashed out of race two in Portugal, but will be looking to bring the Ducati name back to the winner’s circle at Magny-Cours.
“Last year we were fast at Magny Cours, but most of all we played two smart races. We gambled on intermediate tires for Race 1 and it paid off, then we simply looked after our tires well in Race 2,” Chaz Davies says.
“At the end of two very different races, we came out on top. The track is quite good for our package, but that also applies to our main rivals. In the last round we struggled a bit, but we understood why and I expect us to be much closer in France and put up a fight. The weather is always a point of contention there, and it’s quite unpredictable: we had a bit of everything in the past, from summer days to freezing cold, so there’s no real way to prepare for it. We’ll just do our homework and try get the job done on track.”
Magny-Cours WorldSBK gets underway with the first free practice on Friday; here’s the official schedule (all local time):
- 9:45 – 10:45 a.m., SBK FP1
- 2:30 – 3:30, SBK FP2
- 8:45 – 9:10 a.m., SBK FP3
- 10:30 – 10:45 a.m., SBK Superpole 1
- 10:55 – 11:10 a.mm., SBK Superpole 2
- 1 p.m., SBK Race 1
- 9:30 – 9:45 a.m., SBK Warm-up
- 1 p.m. SBK Race 2
2017 World Superbike Point Standings (after 10 of 13 rounds):
|6||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha||NLD||166|
|8||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||GBR||133|
|17||Raffaele De Rosa||BMW||ITA||35|
|18||Alex De Angelis||Kawasaki||SM||33|