Technical set up for the race, which was held in the driest conditions seen at Magny-Cours so far this weekend, was a calculated gamble given the lack of dry practice time, but it was obvious from the start that van der Mark's crew had gone in the right direction for both the track and the conditions.
Starting from the front row of the grid having qualified second in Superpole, van der Mark was in the thick of the action from the off, making aggressive moves to get the better of a five-way battle and take the lead seven laps into the race. As soon as he hit the front the Pata Yamaha rider immediately upped his pace and pulled a gap on the four riders disputing second place. Van der Mark maintained an advantage of around a second to his pursuers until reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, managed to close the gap with four laps to go.
One lap later van der Mark made an error under braking for Turn 5, running in a little bit too aggressively, losing the front and sliding off, handing the race lead to Rea. The Pata Yamaha rider remounted to finish 13th and is determined to make amends in the two races tomorrow.
After a strong start from the second row of the grid, Alex Lowes fought valiantly within the group contesting second place until a severe drop off in grip from the front tyre forced him to moderate his pace and settle for a solid sixth place at the line. The result consolidates his third place in the championship standings, giving him an 11-point advantage over today's race winner, Toprak Razgatlioglu in fourth and 12 points over his fifth placed teammate, van der Mark.
After a strong showing in the wet and mixed conditions yesterday, Marco Melandri's race aspirations took a blow when he crashed in Superpole and was forced to start today from the fourth row of the grid. Despite a less than perfect set-up on his GRT Yamaha YZF-R1, the Italian managed to fight his way through the pack to finish a creditable eighth in the 21-lap race.
The weather at Magny-Cours couldn't have been less kind to Sandro Cortese, who was making his debut at the French track aboard a Superbike. The reigning Supersport World Champion was hoping for dry conditions in which to adapt to the demands of the Superbike but was left disappointed when rain disrupted every practice session and Superpole was held on a fully wet track. Despite the limited dry track time, Cortese rode a solid race from 17th on the grid to secure another top ten finish this afternoon.
It was home hero Baz who eventually led the Yamaha riders home in fourth place today, despite struggling throughout the 21-lap race with the setup on his Ten Kate Yamaha YZF-R1. The Frenchman was poised to challenge Tom Sykes for the final podium place on the final lap, but a near highside at Turn 8 left Baz with too much ground to make up in the final two kilometres and he was forced to settle for a still impressive fourth at the chequered flag.