Noriyuki Haga has retaken the lead of the World Superbike Championship standings, despite being denied a double victory at Imola by Michel Fabrizio.
While many expected team orders to come into play, Fabrizio managed to catch and overtake Haga on lap 13 to romp home to a comfortable second career victory on home soil
Although the result means five points less for Haga, the Japanese rider was still able to move ahead of Spies again in the overall standings. The American could only finish fifth after tripping over the feuding Aprilias of Marco Simoncelli and Max Biaggi, a result that puts him three points adrift with four races remaining.
Spies' problems began from the start when a poor getaway from second position dropped him to sixth, behind Michel Fabrizio
– who scythed into the lead from pole -, Haga, Biaggi, Shane Byrne and Jonathan Rea.
While an error by Rea at the Bassa chicane on the first lap, when he appeared to catch a bump on the exit, promoted Spies back into fifth, a gap was already forming amongst the top three as Fabrizio, Haga and Biaggi stretched out.
Having complained of problems with his arm in the first race, Fabrizio looked more comfortable in the lead on this occasion as he fought to keep his team-mate at bay. However, when Haga got a better exit out of Acque Minerale, he made his move before reaching Variante Alta to take a lead many assumed he would be able to hold onto.
Although his cause was made somewhat more troublesome by Biaggi overtaking Fabrizio on the same lap, the younger Roman fought back on lap five to regain the position. Fending off an additional failed pass by Biaggi at Rivazza on lap six, Fabrizio pushed on to try and reduce the margin Haga had quickly built up over him.
Gradually reeling Haga in, Fabrizio was back on the tail of the sister Ducati by lap eleven and beginning to apply the pressure. However, with Fabrizio evidently not keen on adhering to any potential team orders until he is mathematically out of the title reckoning – particularly on home soil -, he pulled a move back on Haga entering turn one on lap 13.
With Haga stating post-race that the changes he made to the bike between races weren't working out, he didn't have a response to Fabrizio's late race charge. As such, while there was an anticipation that he would slow to allow Haga back through, Fabrizio continued on to the chequered flag to add to his maiden triumph at Monza back in May.