Cal Crutchlow has extended his lead in the World Supersport Championship standings after prevailing in a thrilling exchange with arch-rival Eugene Laverty at Misano.
In a race that was split in two when a mid-race oil spillage necessitated a red flag period and for the eventual results to be decided by aggregate times, Crutchlow and Laverty lived up to their status as title favourites by enjoying a hard fought battle for victory.
At the time of the red flag, caused when Kenan Sofuoglu
crashed out on lap nine, Laverty had been leading Crutchlow, the pair crossing the line a mere 0.036secs apart to ensure a genuine race to the finish line on the restart.
However, the Parkalgar Honda rider started off on the wrong foot, getting away in third position behind Joan Lascorz while Crutchlow assumed the lead.
Nonetheless, Laverty was soon on Crutchlow's tail again, pumping in a series of fast laps as he disputed the spot with the Briton. He very nearly threw it away on lap six of the restart when, whilst attempting to capitalise on a slight Crutchlow error, he high-sided and was lucky to hold on.
Gathering it together though to take the lead of the race again with four laps remaining, Crutchlow stayed well in contention with his rival and, with Laverty unable to make a break, the Yamaha rider slipped back through on the penultimate lap.
From here, Crutchlow resisted intense pressure to take the victory, his third win of the season and one that increases his advantage over Laverty to 14 points.
In a race of high attrition – just 16 riders finished -, neither Ten Kate Honda rider made it to the finish after Sofuoglu and Andrew Pitt, who was leading at the time, crashed out. The retirement of Sofuoglu means he is now 52 points adrift of Crutchlow in the overall standings.
The final spot on the podium instead fell to Massimo Roccoli, the Italian securing his best result for the Intermoto Czech team after resisting the attentions of Kawasaki's Joan Lascorz.
Mark Aithchison completed the top five for Althea Honda, ahead of Katsuaki Fujiwara, Anthony West, Fabien Foret, Gianluca Nannelli and Miguel Praia.