He's got some air between himself and the battle for fourth position too, which in turn looks set to go down to the wire as Jonathan Rea and Max Biaggi
continue to battle away.
Having watched Rea pull away with his Nurburgring triumph, Biaggi reined him back in at Imola with a superb race day display that almost saw him give Aprilia its second win of the year. While post-race discussion was more about his potential grievances with Marco Simoncelli (Biaggi later shook the incident off), the Italian continues to close on an overall position above and beyond what he and the team had targeted pre-season.
With Biaggi's performance this year, coupled to Simoncelli's podium-winning turn at Imola, already establishing Aprilia as potential title contenders in 2010, the clamour for an RSV-4 begins in earnest at Magny-Cours following the confirmation that freshly crowned British Superbike Champion Leon Camier will ride one in France.
Having apparently been courted by Honda and Suzuki over the year, not to mention Yamaha as they consider its available positions for next year, Camier's early arrival at Aprilia can be considered a coup for both parties as they consider their future options.
The move does represent a small risk for Camier though as he arrives in France having not ridden the bike or the circuit, while Simoncelli's headline-grabbing performance in Italy is still buzzing around the WSBK paddock. Even so, with the likes of Chris Vermeulen and Colin Edwards considering an Aprilia switch earlier in the year, Camier has an ideal opportunity now to prove he deserves a race-winning bike in 2010.
His first target may be the remaining British contingent – and former BSB rivals -, which continue to fill the gap between the leaders and the mid-fielders. Leon Haslam leads the way in the overall standings after posting a pair of good top ten results in Imola on the sole Stiggy Honda, while Shane Byrne continues to improve his stock with an eye-catching outing on Sterilgarda Ducati's home ground too. Tom Sykes, however, is running out of time to make the impact he needs in order to ensure a ride in 2010 after a troubled day in Italy – consistency is one thing, but a single stand out performance continues to go wanting.
Elsewhere, Suzuki will persevere with Karl Muggeridge
alongside Yukio Kagayama, despite whispers that Max Neukirchner would be back on the bike for Magny-Cours, while Kawasaki will welcome back Sheridan Morais in the place of Makoto Tamada, who continues to recover from his horrific accident at Imola less than a week ago.
So, while Magny-Cours wending, country setting may not be the scene for another title decider on this occasion, it will certainly provide a vital clue in deciding whom to put your money on when the year's action finally concludes in Portugal…