Noriyuki Haga has won his fifth World Superbike victory of the season after resisting intense race-long pressure from home favourite Max Biaggi at Vallelunga.
A tense race as Biaggi kept Haga honest from lights-to-flag, the pair were never separated by more than half a second, but save for a few feigned moves at various times in the race, the Japanese rider never looked like he would surrender the lead.
Troy Corser would complete the podium, but could have finished better had he not made a mistake mid-way through the race. Nonetheless, with Troy Bayliss finishing down in sixth, Corser keeps his slim title hopes alive for a little longer.
From the start, pole sitter Bayliss got the best getaway, the Aussie sweeping across the circuit to take the initial lead from Biaggi, Haga and Corser.
Haga was on a charge though and after dispatching of Biaggi at the hairpin on the first lap, he swept past Bayliss for the lead at the start of lap two. Bayliss did not look comfortable though and he soon found himself behind Biaggi by the end of lap two, before Corser and Ryuichi Kiyonari followed through a lap later.
Kiyonari's challenge faltered soon afterwards though when he suffered a low-speed tumble at the hairpin in an almost identical fall to that of former Ten Kate man James Toseland a year earlier. Although he got going again, he retired soon after.
Up at the front, Haga, Corser, Biaggi – Corser and Biaggi having swapped places - and now Carlos Checa made up the leading group, while Bayliss was keeping a watching brief in fifth.
Despite Checa's presence though, victory always looked more likely to come from the top three, although when Corser attempted to snatch the lead off Haga, it instead invited Biaggi back through into second place.
Corser remained close up until lap twelve when an attempt to pass Biaggi down the back long-straight caused him to run wide at Campagnano and allow Checa up into third place. However, the Spaniard's hopes of holding the position ended just a few corners later at Semaford when he too ran wide and allowed Corser back through. Although back to third, Corser had lost significant ground to the leaders.