Winger Donovan Taofifenua's late bonus point-claiming try sent Racing 92 back to the summit of the French Top 14 despite Saturday's 23-18 loss at Clermont.
Taofifenua crossed in the 78th minute to bump Racing one point above Toulon, who beat Pau 36-16 earlier in the day to originally grab top spot.
Tonga centre George Moala and Argentina winger Bautista Delguy scored for the hosts in central France as Clermont secured their fourth win from nine games this season.
The unlikely bonus point gives Siya Kolisi's Racing a further boost before starting their Champions Cup campaign against Harlequins next Sunday having rested the two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain for the Clermont trip.
"We fought until the last minute to take something from this away game," Racing back-rower Ibrahim Diallo told reporters.
"We're frustrated of course with this defeat but the bonus point allows us to stay top and keep up our good energy."
Racing trailed 17-6 at the break after Moala and Delguy's efforts and former Pumas fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta's points from the tee.