Aprilia's Max Biaggi scored a popular home-race win in the first of two World Superbike races today in Monza, Italy, the Italian winning his third race of the season to move within eight points of championship leader Leon Haslam.
Biaggi's win came after a close battle with Sterilgarda Yamaha's James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow and Haslam. Toseland came the closest of the Brits to topple the former 250cc World Champion, but he came up short at the finish with the top three within .3 of a second at the line.
Toseland's second place matched his season best after a so-so qualifying performance, but he barely bested his teammate Crutchlow at the line.
Haslam led briefly on the fourth lap, but that would be the only time that Biaggi didn't lead, despite getting pressured for the duration. Haslam and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 would ultimately be forced to settle for fourth behind the Aprilia and the two factory Yamahas.
Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea was also in the mix until he crashed at the Parabolica. Fortunately, the rider from Northern Ireland escaped without injury in the high-speed crash.
The win was the ninth of Biaggi's World Superbike career and it moved him closer to Haslam in the title chase heading into race two today. Toseland was the other big mover in the championship as he went to fourth - just four points behind non-finisher Rea.
Biaggi's teammate Leon Camier ended up fifth, some four seconds off the lead quartet. Sixth place went to BMW's Ruben Xaus in his best finish of the season and his best with BMW. Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio was a shadow seventh.
Troy Corser rode the second BMW to eighth, with Kawasaki's Tom Sykes and Alstare Suzuki's Sylvain Guintoli rounding out the top 10.
American Roger Lee Hayden finished 19th on the Pedercini Kawasaki.
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
2. James Toseland (Yamaha)
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
4. Leon Haslam (Suzuki)
5. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
6. Ruben Xaus (BMW)
7. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
8. Troy Corser (BMW)
9. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
10. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki)
19. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)