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Tom Sykes has taken full advantage of Sylvain Guintoli's first retirement of the 2013 World Superbike Championship with a comfortable fourth win of the season at Imola.
Coming into the Italian race with a healthy 28 point advantage over Sykes in the overall standings, it was Guintoli's turn to suffer misfortune at the hands of his expiring Aprilia, the Frenchman retiring from the race early on having been running in third position.
His demise duly gave Sykes the ultimate opportunity to recover lost ground on his main rival, the Kawasaki rider doing exactly that as he fended off a spirited attack by Davide Giugliano to seal victory by more than seven seconds.
Starting from pole position, Sykes was beaten down to the first bend by fellow front row sitters Jonathan Rea and Davide Giugliano, though Rea's challenge would falter seconds later when he ran wide on the exit of Villeneuve, dropping himself out of the top ten.
As such, Giugliano moved into the lead aboard the Althea Aprilia, a position he would hold for the opening six laps before Sykes squeezed past into Variante Alta. To Giugliano's credit, the Italian would cling onto Sykes in the following laps, the pair putting considerable distance between themselves and the chasing pack as they traded fastest laps.
However, Giugliano's hopes of a fairytale maiden WSBK win on home soil would fade as the race progressed, Sykes's record-breaking lap on the 14th revolution giving him the break that would see him pull away to the chequered flag.
A fourth win of the year for the British rider, and the ninth of his career, Sykes's win has duly reduced Guintoli's lead in the overall standings to three points.
Behind the impressive Giugliano, who matched his best-ever finish at WSBK level in second position, Laverty clung onto the final podium spot to save some face for the factory Aprilia team following Guintoli's retirement.