Yamaha's Ben Spies cut the championship lead of Ducati Xerox's Nori Haga to less than 40 points with a runaway victory in World Superbike's first ever flag-to-flag race on the Misano World Circuit in Italy.Spies' ninth win, and fourth in a row, gives him 237 points to 276 for Haga, fifth today, as the second half of the 14 race championship kicks off. Spies has more than cut Haga's biggest lead in half, from 88 points after the sixth round to 39.Today's race began with everyone on rain tires on a wet but drying track and no one managed the early part of the race better than Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane Byrne. Byrne jetted into the lead from the start and added to it in chunks until the gap was nearly 20 seconds on Ruben Xaus (BMW) on the 15th of 24 laps. Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking was third with Spies down in sixth, 45 seconds off the pace.By then Byrne's tires were starting to shred and he pitted, handing the lead to Xaus, who held it briefly. It was Spies who was on the move.The Texan had changed bikes on the 12th lap and was nearly a minute down. But once the slicks were warm his lap times dropped and he quickly sliced through the field.From ninth on lap 13, he was into eighth on the next lap, then ascended the order as he sped up and others pitted to change bikes.On lap 16 he was in fifth, then up to second, behind Xaus, on the next lap. Spies took the lead on lap 18 and carried a lead of 3.516 seconds. over Byrne across the stripe.For the next six laps the lead would grow, topping out at 7.931 seconds for the 24-lap race.Byrne was second with Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio edging the fast closing pole-sitter Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Racing) for the final podium spot.Then came Haga by less than a second over Alstare Suzuki Brux's Yukio Kagayama.Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea finished an eventful seventh. He'd been put to the back of the grid after breaking down on the warm-up lap, then had to serve a stop-and-go penalty.Yamaha's Tom Sykes was alone in eighth in front of Aprilia's Shinya Nakano.Hacking was called into the pits on lap 19 and would drop to 16th, one better than teammate Broc Parkes.Stiggy Racing Honda's John Hopkins opted not to start, preferring to rest his injured hip.

Race One:

1. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

2. Shane Byrne (Ducati)

3. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)

4. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)

5. Nori Haga (Ducati)

6. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki)

7. Jonathan Rea (Honda)

8. Tom Sykes (Yamaha)

9. Shinya Nakano (Aprilia)

10. Matthieu Lagrive (Honda)

11. Carlos Checa (Honda)

12. Leon Haslam (Honda)

13. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)

14. Ruben Xaus (BMW)

15. Alessandro Polita (Suzuki)

16. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)

World Superbike Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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