Jonathan Rea finished his 2012 World Superbike campaign with a podium finish for Ten Kate Honda in France, but the Ulsterman was honest enough to admit throwing away what looked like a cast iron victory in race one after losing concentration.
Chaz Davies, Carlos Checa and Leon Camier all joined Rea in various gravel traps at the Magny Cours circuit in treacherous conditions, but the biggest shock was the premature exit of championship leader Max Biaggi.
The Aprilia team leader crashed out in race one at turn five, but did enough later in the day to lift the 2012 World Superbike title by half a point over Englishman Tom Sykes after taking a tentative fifth place in race two.
Before crashing out at half distance in the opening encounter, Rea had a comfortable 10 second lead over eventual third placed man Tom Sykes.
This gave the Huddersfield based Kawasaki rider a great opportunity to take the victory, but having used the best of his rear Pirelli wet, he was overhauled by eventual race winner Sylvain Guintoli on the Pata Ducati — much to the delighted of the patriotic French audience.
Melandri brought his BMW home in second.
Sykes did take the second race win from Rea and Guintoli, but with Biaggi posting fifth behind his Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty, the half a point deficit between him a Sykes after 34 pulsating races this season, was enough to give the 41-year-old Italian his second World Superbike title.
Jamie Patterson (19), a winner in the KTM European Junior Cup at Silverstone earlier in the season, had a disappointing day in France, crashing out in the early exchanges.
The Antrim lad remounted but was forced to retire in the pits with mechanical problems. He finishes the championship in seventh position.
Austria’s Lukas Wimmer took the victory and the inaugural KTM Junior Cup championship title.
At Mondello Park, Randalstown’s Denver Robb clinched the coveted Irish Superbike Championship for the first time. But the big story was reserved for Waterford’s Brian McCormack who clinched the Adelaide Masters’ Superbike and Supersport titles.
MSR Ducati mounted Lee Johnston won the Masters’ Race of the Year from Lisburn’s David Haire. Haire also clinched the 2012 Irish Supersport title at the meeting; Gavin Johnston took top spot in the Superstock series and Andrew Irwin is the new Irish Supertwins champion for 2012.