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.

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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.

A result that douses Rea's brief threat for third in the standings, Fabrizio was delighted to secure a second win for Ducati on home turf, while an unfazed Haga was still happy to see his team-mate come away with victory as he congratulated him in the post-race press conference.

Part of his positive mood may have been down to Spies' somewhat laboured fifth place finish, the Yamaha rider bringing an underwhelming weekend to a close on a disappointing note.

Up to fifth place again at Rea's expense, the Northern Irishman dropping outside the top ten by first going straight on at Tamburello on lap three before doing the same at Variante Bassa two laps later, Spies worked hard to try and breach Byrne's staunch defence of fourth place.

His frustrations were heightened on lap four when Simoncelli pulled off a fine pass on the exit of Rivazza, before watching as the Italian dispatched Byrne at Tosa on lap seven.

Increasingly desperate to get past the Sterilgarda Ducati, Spies and Byrne almost came together at Tosa on lap ten before the title contender finally made a move stick across the finish line moments later.

Further up the road, having rallied early on in the race, Biaggi was beginning to fade into the clutches of his rapidly closing team-mate Simoncelli, Aprilia's 'guest' rider now having a good opportunity to put one over his more experienced counterpart.

However, it took a surprisingly bold move - which Simoncelli later admitted was a disguised mistake - at the Variante Bassa to get him through. Coming from a substantial distance back and braking late, Simoncelli scrambled through, forcing Biaggi to sit up.

It was Biaggi's tight line into the second part of the chicane, however, that would prove Spies' undoing. Having been able to get on the back of the two Italians as they entered the chicane, Biaggi ran wide on the exit into the path of Spies, forcing him off onto the gravel trap.

While the low speed nature of the incident allowed Spies to keep things upright, it dropped him back behind Byrne and well off the fight for the podium. Although he battled back to pass Byrne, fifth place and eleven points means he is now the 'hunter' again with Magny-Cours and Portimao remaining.

While few riders get away with tackling Biaggi in front of his home crowd, Simoncelli remained a hugely popular podium winner, the future MotoGP rider proving his worth by lapping on a similar pace to the leaders throughout the race.

Despite being somewhat shown up by Simoncelli, Biaggi did at least hold on for fourth at the end of an otherwise satisfying day to close the gap on Rea in the battle for fourth overall.

Rea, meanwhile, continued his somewhat erratic ride back through the order, passing Byrne two laps from the end before promptly running wide at Piratella. He managed to secure the spot properly a lap later to finish sixth, ahead of Byrne.

Leon Haslam enjoyed a quiet ride to eighth, ahead of Jakub Smrz and Carlos Checa, while Lorenzo Lanzi, Tom Sykes, Ruben Xaus, Karl Muggeridge and Broc Parkes made up the top fifteen.