Rising Aussie star Chris Vermeulen could afford Sunday's World Supersport victory at Imola to his Ten Kate Honda teammate Karl Muggeridge
after his lone remaining title rival Katsuaki Fujiwara crashed out of the race on lap six.
Vermeulen and Muggeridge spent all 21 laps at the head of the field and with Fujiwara out of the race, Vermeulen could afford to make a last lap stab at his teammate and countryman on the run down to Rivazza on the final lap.
It was an optimistic move at best and Muggeridge played the safe option, allowed his teammate to come through and run wide and then resumed his place in the lead for a comfortable run to the chequered flag.
Muggeridge second straight WSS victory puts him in with a shout of taking second place in the overall points table at the final round in Magny Cours as Fujiwara dropped from second to fourth in the standings.
Jurgen Van de Goorbergh had a relatively quiet run to third place while Stephane Chambon muscled his way to fourth position after one of the best battles of the race, a battle that could have been decimated when Fujiwara lost the front end of his factory Suzuki on the entrance to the final chicane directly in front of his teammate Chambon and a host of others. Thankfully everyone missed both the prone bike and its rather startled looking rider.
Fourth place should have gone to Gianluca Nannelli on his Lorenzini by Leoni Yamaha but the unlucky Italian began suffering mechanical problems just two laps from home and in addition to losing forth to Chambon, he also saw Sebastien Charpentier nip past for fifth place.
Nannelli managed to finish a heartbroken sixth after the best ride of his Supersport career while wildcard Tekkyu Kayo settled in nicely to the Yamaha Belgarda camp to finish seventh.
Iain MacPherson benefited from a gritty ride and some attrition to come home in eighth place with Antonio Carlacci and Simone Sanna completing the top ten.
In addition to Fujiwara, Supersport returnee Kevin Curtain failed to make the finish after a starring ride on the Yamaha Deutschland YZF R6 while both Fuchs Kawasaki's retired with mechanical problems.
While Vermeulen has wrapped up the title, Chambon, Van de Goorbergh, Fujiwara and Muggeridge can all take second place in the championship at the final round at Magny Cours.