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Max Biaggi has extended his lead in the eni World Superbike Championship standings after putting in a marvellous performance to win at Misano, ahead of a similarly impressive Carlos Checa.
An unexpected result since Biaggi and Checa started down the order in 10th and 16th respectively, the experienced riders showed their class as they scythed their way up the field to cross the line less than a second apart.
A race of two halves since the opening portion of the race bore little reflection to the eventual result, significant tyre wear would take its toll on the several of the early front runners. Nonetheless, it does nothing to discredit the performance of both Biaggi and Checa, who proved why they are former champions at this level with their classy fight backs.
Doing much of their hard work at the start, Biaggi and Checa would end the opening lap in sixth and ninth respectively, settling into the chasing pack initially as they diced with Ayrton Badovini and Marco Melandri.
Up front, Jonathan Rea optimised his front row start to snatch the lead into the opening bend, followed closely by Tom Sykes, Davide Giugliano and Leon Haslam, though Haslam would work his way up to third by the end of lap two.
While the top four steadily worked their way into an early margin, Biaggi and Checa battled it out behind them in an occasionally error-strewn tussle with their rivals. Indeed, it would take until lap ten of 24 for both riders to break free of Badovini, the Italian having put up a staunch defence against his more coveted rivals.
Their breakthrough would subsequently coincide with Haslam getting past Sykes for second, a move that was quickly replicated by Giugliano and Melandri to shuffle the Kawasaki rider down to fifth. Worse would follow for Sykes as the charging Biaggi and Checa would drop him to seventh by lap 13.
Though his pass suggested a run at catching Rea, who was now two seconds up the road, Haslam quickly found himself back to third as Giugliano would get back ahead to lead the chase for the Honda rider.
In fact, Haslam's demotion would kick-start a remarkable drop for both himself and BMW team-mate Melandri, the pair seeing their lap times increase to drop behind Biaggi, Checa and Sykes in just four laps.
Worse would follow for Melandri, however, when contact with Badovini on lap 19 would see him slip outside the top ten, before pulling into the pit lane when he dropped out of the points' paying positions.
Back at the front, Rea's lead was also under threat, the Ulsterman's advantage having been quickly pegged back by a determined Giugliano, who in turn had Biaggi and Checa for close company in third and fourth positions.
Giugliano eventually made his move for the lead on lap 17, with Rea proceeding to be sat up by following Biaggi and passed by Checa shortly afterwards, pushing him back to fourth.
With Rea's pace dropping off markedly, the battle for victory was reduced to Giugliano, Biaggi and Checa, with the younger of the trio doing a sterling job at keeping both his countryman and his team-mate at bay with some feisty riding.
However, though he was able to maintain the lead for four laps, Biaggi eventually struck with three laps remaining into turn one, with Checa immediately pouncing on his team-mate to go with his rival in second place.
Setting up an exciting last gasp fight for the win, the stark contrast in set-ups would see Checa close up under braking, but the superior straight-line speed of the Aprilia would ultimately give Biaggi the respite needed to complete a very popular victory on home soil.
His first win since the Phillip Island season opener, Biaggi's success has done him the service of increasing his lead in the overall standings to 30 points, while Checa still has much to be pleased with following the qualifying error that left him on the fourth row.
Notching up his second podium of the season, Giugliano crossed the line in third position after a mature performance from the Superbike rookie.
With Rea fading badly, Sykes regained fourth in the closing stages to soften the blow to his title dreams, the Kawasaki rider now at least back up to second place in the standings.
Rea, meanwhile, was just able to hold on for fifth, but had to out-sprint the remarkable Chaz Davies, who overturned a lowly 21st position on the grid to finish a mighty sixth. Getting the better of factory Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty, Davies made up 15 positions over the course of the race to secure one of his best finishes of the season from a very unassuming starting spot.
Sylvain Guintoli crossed the line where he started in eighth, though the Frenchman's poor getaway had left him in 17th at one stage, while his team-mate Jakub Smrz finished in ninth.
Embroiled in a tight mid-pack, Leon Camier yo-yoed up and down the order but would eventually settle with a solid finish in tenth for Suzuki, ahead of Badovini and Haslam, the BMW duo fading badly but at least scoring.
Maxime Berger, Michel Fabrizio and wild-card Matteo Baiocco rounded out the final points' paying positions.