Max Biaggi got within 0.18secs of his first Ducati victory after a storming race one charge at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

Having dropped back to seventh in the early stages, the sole Sterilgarda Ducati rider fought his way up to third place by lap ten of 25 - by which time race leaders Ryuichi Kiyonari and Troy Bayliss had broken clear.

Biaggi was still three seconds adrift with eight laps to go, but began closing hand-over-fist thereafter and took the chequered flag just 0.043secs behind Bayliss and 0.18secs form first time winner Kiyonari.

"Race one was pretty good. Starting from the second row I had a so-so start and then got up to third, behind the top two guys, Bayliss and Kiyonari," Biaggi told Radio. "I was three seconds away with eight laps to go but I started to believe I could do it and closed the gap. It was so close on the final lap, one tenth covering all three riders, it was a good race for me and my team."

That thrilling race one performance was expected to be repeated in race two, but Biaggi struck problems from the outset.

"I was a little bit unlucky in race two, my clutch slipped at the start and I couldn't do anything," Biaggi revealed. "They overtook me everywhere and I was down in tenth or something. Then on lap two I tried to recover some positions but I lost the rear going into a corner.

"It was a miracle I managed to stay on. I went all the way through the gravel and came back on the track in last. That was too bad. I put my head down and tried to get some points. I'm a little frustrated because I could have had another podium," added Max, who reached twelfth position.

"All in all it's a good weekend," he shrugged. "The weather has been so unpredictable today - rain, then stop, then race one was delayed. It makes the riders a bit nervous and also the team, because they have to decide which set-up to use. But at the end of the day we leave here with one podium and some points."

Team-mate Ruben Xaus was prevented from racing on Sunday after a fever got worse overnight, prompting the Misano winner to make an early return to Spain.

"Unfortunately I'm feeling very low," he said. "Riding the bike would have been a high risk. I'm not able now to take a Superbike to the limit. I hope to make up for the lost race in the next championship round at Donington after the holidays."


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