The Superbike World Championship comes to Magny-Cours, one of its most traditional events. The WorldSBK French Round will be a key date: after the holidays, the Superbike riders start the final leg of the season that will decide the titles.
Álvaro Bautista arrives at SBK Magny-Cours with a certain advantage, but Toprak Razgatlıoğlu will not make things easy for him on the circuit where he achieved his first Superbike victory. With its strong braking and numerous overtaking points, Magny-Cours WorldSBK promises to be an event not to be missed if you experience it at the foot of the track.
SBK Magny-Cours: layout characteristics
With a total length of 4.411 kilometres, Magny-Cours is a winding circuit, which leaves hardly any breath for the drivers. Even the straight sections, which are not many and not very long, force the rider to lean his bike. This track usually provides for exciting races thanks to its numerous overtaking points and strong braking, perhaps for this reason it is one of Toprak Razgatlıoğlu's favourites!
Its first three corners are long and require good traction, especially Estoril which gives way to the back straight, the longest on the track. It ends at a very tight angle called 'Adelaide' which causes numerous overtaking, but also braking passes and some touches between drivers. From there, the drivers shoot into the 'Nurburgring', a right-left sequence with a very quick change of direction that can also be a good place to pass.
After that, you reach the 180º turn, which allows two lines, one inside and one outside to prepare for the next stage, called 'Imola', which is also a quick right-left change where it is possible to overtake. But the drivers must be vigilant, since at the exit of Imola you will reach the Chateaux d'Eau braking point, a key point to defend the position... or attempt an unexpected attack. From there the bikes face the descent towards the Lycée corner, another overtaking point and the final chicane just before the finish line.
Superbike Magny-Cours: land of coronations
Magny-Cours is synonymous with title celebrations. Because it is a fixture at the end of the calendar, this has allowed the French circuit to be the place where many drivers have won the World Champion title. Some of these occasions have been historic.
In 2004, the British James Toseland became the youngest champion in history at the age of 23. In 2011, Carlos Checa became the first Spaniard to achieve number 1 in the history of the championship. The following year, Max Biaggi clinched the title by just half a point over Tom Sykes, in the smallest points difference in WorldSBK history.
The one who surely has the best memory of Magny-Cours is the six-time champion Jonathan Rea, who managed to finish off his third, fourth and fifth title on French soil in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. History was also made on the track when Ana Carrasco crossed the finish line as the first female World Champion on asphalt, winning the WorldSSP 300 in 2018.
The SBK French Round
Magny-Cours was not the first French circuit to host a World Superbike event, but it has been the one that has held this event the most times.
In 1988, the inaugural season of WorldSBK, the Bugatti-Le Mans circuit hosted the first French Round. It was held on September 4 and its first winner was the Italian Fabrizio Pirovano, on Yamaha; he finished as runner-up that year.
The following year, the Superbikes traveled to the south of the Hexagon at Paul Ricard, to return to Le Mans in 1990. On that occasion, the Frenchman Raymond Roche achieved the double to the delight of his public, being the first Frenchman to win the home event and become WorldSBK World Champion.
It wasn't until 1991 that Magny-Cours hosted WorldSBK. On that occasion, Roche could not prevent the victory of the American Doug Polen, who signed one of his 17 victories that season: a record that would not be equaled until 2018 by Jonathan Rea.
The French Round was not held again until 2003, with Magny-Cours again being the venue. Curiously, for the local drivers it has not been a favorable scenario for their interests: only Sylvain Guintoli has been able to win at Magny-Cours, achieving victory in Race 1 in 2012 and 2014.
Magny-Cours, Nevers and the Burgundy region
Magny-Cours is a small town of two thousand inhabitants located in one of the most rural regions of France. Therefore, we will find a landscape dominated by agricultural activity and forests, together with typically French elements, such as chateaus. In fact, not far from the circuit is the pretty Château de la Chasseigne.
Just ten kilometers north of Magny-Cours is the city of Nevers. It is the most important city in the region to which Magny-Cours belongs: the Nièvre. In Nevers we will find services and shops, but also some monuments, such as the Ducal Palace of Nevers, where the counts and dukes of the region resided and is classified as a historic monumental building in the country.
The entire Nièvre area is part of the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region. It is a region with a very important weight in the history and economy of France, as well as having numerous tourist attractions. The capital of Burgundy is Dijon, famous for its mustard, but with a remarkable heritage complex such as the old half-timbered houses in the center or the Ducal Palace of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy. It is located 190 kilometers east of Magny-Cours, but during the tour you can enjoy the route of the famous Burgundy wines.
Also in Burgundy-Franche-Comté we must highlight Besançon. It is a small city with a very well-preserved historic center. Designated as one of the greenest cities and with the best quality of life, Besançon is pleasant to explore for the visitor.
Visiting Paris during French SBK
Despite being in the heart of France, Magny-Cours is located only 250 kilometers south of Paris. That is why, especially if you go to the French SBK Round by plane, Paris is well worth a tourist stop if you have never visited it.
One of the most famous cities in the world, the list of attractions is very long. They range from universal symbols like the Eiffel Tower to entire neighborhoods like Montmartre. But Paris is much more than its well-known monuments. It is a vibrant metropolis, with an enormous cultural and leisure offer.
And not far from Paris, on its outskirts, is the famous Palace of Versailles. A heritage complex so large that it can take a whole day to explore its many buildings and gardens. Its great star not to be missed is the Hall of Mirrors, which experienced great historical moments such as the wedding of Marie Antoinette, the proclamation of the German Empire or the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
In the wine route
Talking about the Burgundy region is talking about wine. One of the capital regions of this industry, perhaps in dispute with Bordeaux as the leader of the sector in the country and internationally.
For this reason, taking a trip north from Magny-Cours along the Bourgogne wine route (from Santenay to Dijon) might be a good idea. In it you can visit the beautiful vineyards, wineries and historic buildings such as the Hospices de Beaune.
Burgundy wines stand out for being classified more by the estate where they come from than by their producer. Thus, it is not so much the 'brands', but the farms that achieve fame and for which the consumer should ask. The two main grape varieties are pinot noir and chardonnay, so we will find both high-quality red and white wines.
As in any wine-growing region, wine also plays an important role in the kitchen. It's a good idea to try local recipes such as Burgundian beef (bœuf bourguignon) or chicken in wine (coq au vin). Also noteworthy is the famous comté cheese, originating in Franche-Comté, as well as the creamy époisses.