Dryer conditions and desire for vital championship points from Tom Sykes' main rivals made for a fascinating race one at Magny-Cours.
A blistering start from championship leader Sykes took the challenge to his championship contenders right from the lights and it was Guintoli - desperate for a win to maintain his title challenge - who accepted, sticking with the Kawasaki KRT man right until lap eight when Sykes found even more pace and extended his lead to 1.5 seconds; some 7.5 seconds ahead of third placed Laverty.
Elsewhere, Chas Davies, trying to take advantage of the battle between Laverty and Melandri ahead of him, arrived at turn four a little too hot and saw his front wheel fall away from him as early as lap three ending his race.
A disappointment for Davies but an absolute race-killer for Laverty who lost any chance of challenging time amongst the action. Fixi-Crescent Suzuki rider, Jules Cluzel also fell to a similar fate a lap later, much to the disappointment of the local, French crowd.
With a red-flag calling proceedings to a halt on lap twenty, and Sykes needing a fifty point lead to be crowned world superbike champion at the close of the race weekend, this victory saw the Yorkshire born Britain take one vital step closer before race two.
Magny-Cours - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 29'38.830
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 29'40.976
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 29'49.473
4. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 29'54.517
5. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 30'02.403
6. Michele Pirro (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 30'12.678
7. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 30'16.429
8. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 30'16.733
9. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale 30'17.011
10. Lorenzo Lanzi (Mesaroli Transports A.S.) Ducati 1098R 30'30.434
11. David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 30'33.572
12. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 30'42.272
13. Vincent Philippe (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 30'46.006
14. Fabrizio Lai (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale 31'03.680
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 31'05.908
RT. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 30'38.548
RT. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 25'48.876
RT. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 3'22.383
RT. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 4'07.271