WINSTON'S VERMEULEN WINS FRENCH OPENER

Chris Vermeulen converted yesterday's record-breaking qualifying performance into victory in race one of today's final World Superbike championship round at Magny-Cours. The 23-year-old Winston Ten Kate Honda rider broke the lap record three times on his way to an eight-second victory over Yukio Kagayama.

Vermeulen's team-mate and fellow Australian, Karl Muggeridge, just missed out on his first podium of the season, finishing fourth to Britain's James Toseland. Muggeridge fought his way back from eighth place on the first of 23-laps at the 4.4km Magny-Cours to take third on lap ten. But after some thrilling racing, Muggeridge ran wide at the Adelaide hairpin on the final lap, allowing Toseland through.

Ronald ten Kate -- team manager:

"That was a really outstanding race and, although Chris got into the lead early on and started to disappear, behind him it was fantastic. Chris was in unbeatable form and the scrap that Karl was involved with was all fair and square. It's a shame he couldn't climb up on the podium but we'll certainly be looking for more in race two."

Chris Vermeulen - winner

"If I can do that again in race two, I'll be pretty happy; but, as ever, those other guys out there don't make it easy. It may have looked like a bit of a cruise when I was out in front but Yukio (Kagayama) didn't let up on the pressure at all so I was riding at 100% all the way to the flag. It's nice to get the lap record to back up the Superpole lap yesterday, which was held in similar temperatures to what it'll be like for race two; so we should have some information to go on."

Karl Muggeridge - fourth

"I just braked a little too late into the hairpin on that final lap and ran maybe two meters wide. That allowed James through and it was just too late to do anything about it. It was an eventful race early on as well, as I took out a few of the cones with my fairing along the start finish straight. I may use that as a braking marker for race two! I'm not sure what we can do to make the bike better though, it was great. I enjoyed the race and hope I can enjoy race two a little more."

-wtkh-