Davide Giugliano returned to the World Superbike podium for the first time since the opening Phillip Island round, courtesy of a close runner-up finish in the Sepang rain.

The Aruba.it Ducati rider, sixth in the dry Saturday race, worked his way forwards from seventh to sit one-second from Nicky Hayden and a debut win by the penultimate lap.

But the American responded and Giugliano eventually crossed the finish line 1.254s behind of the Honda rider, who instead took his first WSBK victory.

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"Nicky was very fast on the first lap and for me at the end it was too much risk to close the gap," Giugliano told Crash.net. "Anyway, it is a beautiful second position. I want to win, but this result was so important.

"It was very difficult to race without any wet practice. But also a lot of fun! The first corner was unknown, also the second corner, the third corner... step-by-step it was possible to see the conditions and push more. It was a fun race and I'm really happy."

Giugliano spent nine laps behind team-mate and title contender Chaz Davies, finally squeezing past the Welshman with five laps to go.

"Chaz is very fast in braking. It was not-so-easy to pass and I didn't want to f**k things up! Chaz is second in the championship, but I want to go in front and try to catch Nicky. I think I did a good race and at this moment it was so important."

Davies, a double winner twice this season, left Malaysia with 3-4 race finishes, meaning he lost a little ground to Jonathan Rea in the title chase.

"It was a strange race, because with 7 laps to go I thought we could win but the next lap I realized we were in trouble," Davies revealed. "The track conditions were pretty [constant], so the tyres were not too difficult to manage, but we struggled with grip in corner exit.

"I had to work the front quite a bit to make up for that, and its performance dropped all of a sudden. I'm semi-happy with the final outcome. Obviously I would have liked to have done more, but we were in contention for most of the race.

"In wet races anything can happen, and we only lost 3 points in the championship. We'll move forward in Donington."

By Peter McLaren