to view WSBK Race 2 Results.
Max Biaggi has clinched the 2012 World Superbike Championship by the tiniest of margins after doing just what he needed to do to fend off Tom Sykes in the overall standings.
A fascinating race that began with Biaggi a sizeable 14.5 points ahead of Sykes following his race one accident, Sykes knew that he would need a win to keep the pressure on his rival, while Biaggi required just a fifth place finish to complete his objective.
And so it proved, Biaggi producing a notably tentative performance but doing just enough to cross the line in fifth place to negate Sykes's fourth win of the season. It means the pair end the season split by just 0.5 points, the smallest margin ever recorded in the history of the series.
Coming into the race knowing a fifth place would be good enough to secure the title, regardless of where Sykes finished, Biaggi still had work to do from tenth position and a laboured start did him few favours as he rounded the first lap in the same spot.
Pole sitter Sykes, on the other hand, had swept into the lead aggressively at the first turn and though Biaggi's team-mate Eugene Laverty would draft by on the run to the Adelaide hairpin, the Kawasaki rider would re-emerge out front by the end of the opening revolution.
With furious calculations going on behind the scenes, Biaggi's progress was minimal initially, only picking off Loris Baz in ninth position on lap five.
Furthermore, with the front five breaking away – with Sykes still out front -, Biaggi's margin for error was quickly shrinking with three-quarters of the race still to run.
However, the Italian would receive a significant break on lap six when arch rival – and his closest championship rival up until the final round – Marco Melandri crashed spectacularly out of sixth place on the exit of Imola, an accident that would force Davide Giugliano onto the gravel in avoidance and prompt Loris Baz to also come off his bike.