World Superbikes: Jonathan Rea makes history by clinching third successive title
Jonathan Rea became the first rider to clinch three successive World Superbike titles by winning Race 1 at Magny-Cours.
The Northern Ireland man's 50th win in the series gives him an unassailable 129-point lead with five races left after his 12th victory of the season.
In wet conditions, Rea, 30, made a sensational start from pole to lead by 2.4 seconds after lap one.
Rea extended his lead as he finished 16.3 seconds ahead of Marco Melandri.
Italian Melandri edged out Rea's nearest championship challenger England's Tom Sykes in a thrilling battle for second spot.
Rea 'lost for words' after triumph
Isle of Man-based Rea said he was "lost for words" after his dominant win confirmed him as the rider of this superbike generation.
"It's not hit me yet," an emotional Rea told British Eurosport.
"I dreamt of [winning] one world championship as a kid. It was all I hung on to through the sacrifices of my parents during my motocross days.
"To get one was incredible. Then going back to back with the new bike was unbelievable. This one... I've no words."
The Northern Irishman's total mastery of the conditions on a drying track made the race a procession as he was away and clear right from the start.
Rea led by more than 10 seconds by lap six as he was in a class of his own.
Rea will aim for weekend double on Sunday
The Kawasaki rider will aim to achieve his fifth double of the season in Race 2 at the French venue on Sunday.
Rea's 50th career win draws him to within nine victories of the record race wins tally achieved by four-time champion Carl Fogarty.
But while Fogarty won four titles, Rea is the first rider to achieve three in a row in the series.
Rea slid off the track early in Saturday's qualifying session held in wet conditions before regrouping to finish 1.2 seconds ahead of Argentine Leandro Mercado, with the Northern Irishman's nearest championship challenger Tom Sykes third fastest.
In a totally dominant weekend to date, Rea was also fastest in both of Friday's practice sessions.
Rea's fellow Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty took sixth place to move up to 10th in the championship standings.