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It was Friday practice pacesetter Alex Lowes who led the timesheets early on in the 15-minute session, immediately lowering Razgatlioglu’s FP3 benchmark with a time of 1m36.544s.

Rea initially lapped the circuit in 1m36.615s before improving to a 1m36.559s behind Lowes, helping establish an early Kawasaki 1-2 at the head of the field.

However, Kawasaki’s hegemony at the front turned out to be short lived as Razgatlioglu gained more time on the Yamaha, ending the first run on top with a time of 1m36.354s.

When the riders returned on track for the final five minutes on a set of fresh tyres, it was Rea who made the biggest jump, finding four tenths over his previous lap to snatch the top spot.

However, the battle wasn’t over yet as Razgatlioglu had left it until the last possible moment to set his flying lap and he clocked a time of 1m36.124s, which was incredibly exactly the same as his 2021 title foe Rea.

Ultimately, it was the Kawasaki rider who got awarded pole position on account of being the first to set the laptime, with Razgatlioglu having to settle for second spot on the grid.

The two will be joined on the front row by the BMW of Scott Redding, who equalled his best qualifying result of the season with a late flyer of 1m36.233s.

Championship leader Alvaro Bautista was never in the fight for pole position but was able to qualify within three tenths off the pace, ending up fourth on the grid on the top Ducati.

GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff posted an impressive time of 1m36.464s to emerge as the top independent rider in qualifying, beating the factory Kawasaki of Lowes – who could only make a marginal improvement over his previous time in the second run.

Seventh place in qualifying went to Michael Ruben Rinaldi on the second of the works Ducati bikes, as Axel Bassani was eighth on the satellite Panigale V4 R fielded by Motocorsa.

Loris Baz continued his impressive run on the Bonovo BMW as he qualified ninth, half a second off polesitter Rea, while GoEleven team’s Philipp Oettl made it four Ducati bikes inside the top 10.

Honda endured a tough session in France with Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge struggling to 13th and 14th respectively, just behind the second factory Yamaha of Andrea Locatelli.

Returning to WSBK for the first time after a long injury layoff, Michael van der Mark qualified 15th with a time of 1m37.411s, 1.1s down on his BMW teammate Redding who booked a spot on the front row.

Magny-Cours WSBK – Qualifying results:

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