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A Kawasaki rider leads the World Superbike Championship standings for the first time in almost 20 years after Tom Sykes moved ahead of Sylvain Guintoli in the overall reckoning with his second victory of the day at Imola.

Another runaway victory around the Italian circuit, Sykes led from start-to-finish to complete a maximum haul of 50 points, results that duly push him to the head of the WSBK standings for the first time in his career and sees Kawasaki on top for the first time since Scott Russell in 1994.

With the margin between the top two down to just three points after Sykes's win was complemented by Guintoli's first retirement of the season in race one, the Kawasaki rider was well placed to carry his momentum to the very top.

And so it proved, Sykes getting away well to lead straight away, his only real challenge coming from Davide Giugliano - a podium winner in race one - before the Italian slid out of the race on lap three.

From here, Sykes was unchallenged, consistently out-pacing the chasing pack to cross the line five seconds ahead of a fairly lonely Jonathan Rea.

Eager to make for the disappointment of race one, when a fall two laps from the chequered flag scuppered his chances of making it onto the podium, Rea would bounce back to comfortably reel off his third rostrum of the year.

Despite slipping from the head of the standings for the first time this year, third place for Guintoli means he continues to keep Sykes honest overall, the Aprilia rider poised six points adrift of his key rival.

Guintoli's run to third came at the expense of team-mate Eugene Laverty, whose title hopes received a significant blow when he crashed out on lap four on the exit of Rivazza. His error means he has slipped 45 points in arrears of Sykes.

Similarly, Marco Melandri has dropped 53 points away from the lead fight, though he did have the satisfaction of edging out BMW team-mate Chaz Davies for fourth position, the pair almost swapping paint on the final lap as they disputed the position.

After struggling in race one, Loris Baz bounced back to finish sixth, in turn maintaining the same spot in the overall standings, while Leon Camier completed two solid top ten finishes for Fixi Crescent Suzuki in seventh.

Behind him, Michel Fabrizio was eighth, while Leon Haslam tallied up his first double finish since breaking his leg back in April with a run to ninth.

With just 15 riders making the chequered flag, those that finished scored points, with Ayrton Badovini in tenth, Jules Cluzel in 11th, Carlos Checa in 12th, Max Neukirchner in 13th, Federico Sandi in 14th and Noriyuki Haga in 15th.


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