Series leader Jonathan Rea had to settle for fourth as Chaz Davies claimed his sixth victory of this year’s World Superbikes Championship at Magny-Cours.
Welshman Davies’ decision to opt for intermediate tyres paid dividends, with Rea and Tom Sykes among the riders forced to change as the track started to dry.
Dutchman Michael van der Mark of Holland took second, finishing just under 10 seconds behind Davies, with Englishman Sykes earning the final spot on the podium.
Davies takes a sensational victory in #FrenchWorldSBK
— WorldSBK (@WorldSBK) October 1, 2016
Davies produced an impressive recovery after finding himself in 13th position earlier in the race, but is still 86 points adrift of reigning champion Rea in third.
Rea had actually secured his first pole position of the season, but was overtaken by Kawasaki teammate Sykes, who sits second in the standings having trimmed the gap to 44 points, before the end of the first lap.
Leon Camier and Lorenzo Savadori both led for periods as the race as numerous competitors were forced to switch tyres, before Davies powered on to win by 9.8 seconds.
Race Two at Magny-Cours will take place on Sunday, with the final two rounds of the championship held in Spain and Qatar.
1. Chaz Davies GBR Ducati 38:51:932
2. Michael van der Mark NED Honda +9.871
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki +10.218
4. Jonathan Rea GBR Kawasaki +18.031
5. Lorenzo Savadori ITA IodaRacing +19.974
6. Matthieu Lagrive FRA Pedercini +24.661
7. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta Reparto Corse +25.743
8. Javier Fores ESP Barni +27.409
9. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha +49.455
10. Alex de Angelis RSM IodaRacing +52.570