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Max Biaggi has returned to the top of the World Superbike Championship standings after taking full advantage of an error from arch rival Marco Melandri at the Nurburgring.
The Italian came into the race 18.5 points adrift of Melandri, but has recovered that ground and moved 6.5 points clear after claiming his first victory since Motorland Aragon in the wake of the BMW rider's DNF.
A dramatic race that could have significant consequences for this year's title fight, it was Tom Sykes that led it out front early on as Biaggi's wide line into turn one did nothing but demote him behind the Kawasaki rider.
Melandri, meanwhile, found himself down to fifth, but was at least fortunate not to pick up a penalty after noticeably moving before the lights went out at the start. Stopping the bike again before it crossed the grid marker, officials deemed he had not gained an advantage to warrant a ride-through.
With Melandri quickly up to third place at the expense of Eugene Laverty and Carlos Checa
as they dipped into the first turn on lap two, the bend would catch out Checa on the next revolution when he lost the front-end on the lean. He wasn't the only rider to succumb on lap three either with Jonathan Rea sliding out of the inherited fifth place just four bends later at Ford Kurve.
However, the bigger casualty was still to come as Melandri, in his attempts to get back on terms with Sykes and Biaggi out front, would run wide into the turn eight hairpin at Dunlop on lap six and drop the BMW into the gravel trap. Unhurt but visibly frustrated, it is Melandri's third DNF of the season after Donington Park and Misano.
Made aware that his biggest rival was out of contention, Biaggi settled in behind Sykes as they extended their advantage over the depleted chasing pack, which was now being headed by Laverty and Chaz Davies in the absence of Melandri, Checa, Rea and also Davide Giugliano, who had crashed on lap four.
However, with Sykes's pace beginning to wane as the race entered its second-half, Biaggi would take over at the front on lap twelve before proceeding to multiply his advantage over the remaining eight revolutions.