Noriyuki Haga has taken a stunning first World Superbike victory of the season after overcoming a poor start and an aggregate deficit to edge the win in Valencia.
The race was being run under aggregate conditions following an earlier restart meaning the battle for victory was being played out on the timesheets, rather than directly on the circuit.
As such, while Haga was comfortably ahead on track, the margin between himself and Carlos Checa
– who led on aggregate at the restart but finished third on the road – was considerably closer.
What transpired was a thrilling final lap with Haga entering it just 0.120secs ahead of Checa, the Spaniard attempting to find little more than a tenth to swing the pendulum back in his favour. However, despite going quicker on the final lap, it wasn't quite enough, the timesheets refreshing to reveal Haga as the winner by 0.025secs.
An outstanding end to what had been a fairly average weekend thus far for the factory Ducati operation, Haga played himself into contention with a good getaway at the beginning of the first start, the Japanese rider settling in fifth from 11th on the grid when the red flags were deployed.
The reason for the stoppage was a nasty accident involving Simon Andrews and Vittorio Iannuzzo down the home straight, with Andrews looking particularly battered and bruised as he was thrown into the pit wall while his Kawasaki broke up around him. Both riders were taken to the medical centre, but are reported to not be seriously hurt.
With the decision to start the race on aggregate, rather than restart it as a whole, Checa held a 0.658secs advantage over Jonathan Rea, followed by Max Biaggi, Sylvain Guintoli, Haga and Leon Haslam, the race one winner having been shuffled down the order initially. Haga, at this stage, had a deficit of 1.2secs to make up on Checa.
At the restart it was an Aprilia whitewash, with Biaggi going in front followed by team-mate Leon Camier, who made an outstanding getaway from seventh to leap into second initially before grabbing the lead from the Italian at turn three.
With Camier leading on the road, he took full advantage of the clear circuit ahead to jump from seventh to third on aggregate too, although he still remained over a second adrift of Checa – running third – and Biaggi, second on the road and on the timesheets. Haga, meanwhile, had moved into fourth at the expense of Rea and Guintoli, the Frenchman slipping back after a poor start.