Fila Ducati's Regis Laconi took the championship lead from his team-mate James Toseland after two wars of attrition for the leading riders at the tenth round of World Superbikes from Imola on Sunday.

Laconi overpowered Ten Kate Honda's Chris Vermeulen in race one, as the young Aussie lost a fraction of front end feel and traction. Laconi performed the same trick in race two, this time on the perennially competitive Toseland.

The championship battle is still very much alive for three riders, with Laconi on 295, Toseland on 291 and Vermeulen on 282 points. An epic battle beckons on October 3, with Renegade Ducati's Noriyuki Haga also still in with a mathematical chance of the overall title win.

A virtual start-to-finish victory for Chris Vermeulen was only halted by the aggression and pace of Regis Laconi on the last two laps of the 21-lap opening race.

The Frenchman blew by on the run down the hill to the first Ravazza, putting over a second between himself and Vermeulen in the last two laps as Laconi upped the pace and Vermeulen fought against a loss of front end feel and performance.

James Toseland recovered from a mid race drop in pace to re-pass Noriyuki Haga for third place, after a bold pass on the exit of the Variante Alta.

Xerox Ducati's Garry McCoy capitalised on his front row start with fifth place.

The second outing was another spectacular man-to-man fight for the win, after a triumvirate of riders had made it a close contest for half the race.

Haga crashed out of the lead after experiencing mechanical problems, allowing Toseland to escape to possible victory, only to be headed off in the last three laps by Laconi.

In a photo finish, Laconi held off the aggressive Toseland, trying to elbow his way past on the short finish straight, by only 0.041 seconds.

Vermeulen for the start of the second race, swapped his number one bike for his spare after an electrical problem. However he crashed on his spare bike on the warm up lap, then made the race after receiving a lift back to the pits. Starting flat last, and suffering from a badly bruised hip, hand and ankle, Vermeulen took an improbable and outstanding sixth.

After some drifts in form of late, DFX Ducati's Steve Martin kept his head and his pace to leave Imola with a sixth place and then a more than welcome third, as the top riders dropped out of contention one by one.

After a sparkling pre-race showing, Garry McCoy was the Aussie privateer most likely to succeed in any potential podium tussle, but he maintained a respectable sixth in the series with two fifth place Imola finishes.

PSG - 1 Ducati's Pierfrancesco Chili had a lowly homecoming, taking only a seventh place and suffering from having to start from 16th place on the grid. Walking back in to the pits he received a hero's welcome, and he remained fifth in the championship fight, with 222 points.

Troy Corser secured two point scoring finishes on his Foggy Petronas machine, but 12th and tenth were not the results he was looking for. Chris Walker had no such luck, with a double no score.