Max Biaggi has won his third World Superbike race of the season after soaking up intense pressure from James Toseland, Cal Crutchlow and Leon Haslam from start-to-finish at Monza.
Biaggi led for almost race's entirety, but was never able to pull out an advantage of more than a second over his closest rivals. Nonetheless, despite a might last lap effort from Toseland, he was unable to nose ahead of the Aprilia, the top three covered by less than three tenths of a second at the chequered flag.
Toseland retained second, despite his cautious attempt at passing Biaggi on the final corner almost costing him a position to Crutchlow, the Yamaha pair split by just four hundredths on the line.
With Biaggi anticipated as the man to beat following his star turn during Superpole and his headline-grabbing top speeds, attention was fixed firmly on him as the race got underway.
Getting his traditionally quick start on the compact RSV-4 to lead into the revised first corner chicane, there was thankfully no repeat of last year's melee as all 24 riders navigated the turn successfully.
There were winners and losers the opening bends though, particularly Troy Corser, who catapulted up to third position, behind Biaggi and Haslam, from 12th on the grid, and Jonathan Rea, who was down to 11th by the end of the opening lap. Behind Corser, Michel Fabrizio, Crutchlow, Toseland and Ruben Xaus
made up positions fourth to seventh following lap one.
Determined not to let Biaggi sprint away as feared, particularly in a straight-line, Haslam launched a immediate assault on the Aprilia, tucking in the slipstream at the start of lap four to out-brake him into Prima Variante and snatch the lead.
It was a brief advantage, however, Biaggi settling behind the Suzuki for two laps before powering past him across the start-finish straight before even reaching the corner. It was a lead he wouldn't lose again.
Just behind, further action had seen Corser shuffled out of position, with Crutchlow and Toseland now occupying third and fourth after both passing the Australian on lap three, while a recovering Rea was on a charge up to fifth having set the fastest lap in the process.