Troy Bayliss may have lost out on the chance to wrap up his third and final World Superbike title when he fell just a few corners from the finish of race two at Vallelunga, but the Australian looks set to claim the crown during this weekend's penultimate round at Magny-Cours in France.
The Ducati Xerox star, who will retire at the end of this year, will start the Magny-Cours event 79 points clear of nearest rival Troy Corser. With only 100 points still to be claimed, Troy can settle the title in either of Sunday's races, providing he prevents Corser, his Yamaha Italia team-mate Noriyuki Haga
(-89 points) and Alstare Suzuki's Max Neukirchner (-89 points) from gaining meaningful ground.
Both Corser and Haga will continue racing in WSBK next season, but change teams - Corser has been confirmed at BMW whilst Haga looks set to replace Bayliss at Ducati.
Double world champion Corser thus has just four more chances to take a debut R1 victory after nearly two seasons of trying, whilst Haga is something of a Magny-Cours specialist - claiming a double victory last season - and now has an excellent chance of at retaining his second place in the final championship standings.
Neukirchner, the leading Suzuki rider since the early rounds of the series, shares a similar goal - having held second in the championship during the middle part of the season - whilst fifth in the championship Carlos Checa
is now out of the title run-in, but already confirmed as staying at Hannspree Ten Kate Honda for 2009.
Following his up and down weekend at Vallelunga, Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati's Max Biaggi
will be looking for more podiums to add to the five he has scored in the last five rounds, or at the very most to take his first win of the year on the privateer Ducati 1098.
Spain's Fonsi Nieto
(Suzuki Alstare) has not shown anything like his opening round victory form at Losail and is six points behind Biaggi in seventh place. Eighth-placed Michel Fabrizio
(Ducati Xerox) was on the podium in his home race and faces up to the final two rounds in the knowledge that his season has been a positive one.
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) has won three races in his debut World Superbike season, results that have put the Japanese rider in ninth place in the table, but he broke his collarbone in the team's test session last week at Magny-Cours and will not take part in this weekend's round. His place on the Ten Kate Fireblade will be taken by German IDM Superbike champion Martin Bauer.
Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati) is propping up the top 10 with 160 points, while Régis Laconi (PSG-1 Corse) showed some signs of revival for the Kawasaki squad at Vallelunga with a ninth place on the ZX-10R.