Ruben Xaus won both races at the penultimate round of the World Superbike championship in Imola, his second double of the season.
The two races were dominated by battles between Xaus and his Fila Ducati team-mate and 2003 world champion Neil Hodgson, with both riders pushing it to the limits.
Xaus started on pole and the first race saw him keep the lead till lap 10 when a huge rear wheel slide forced him to run wide and let Hodgson slip through. The two then continued to fight right to the finish line, swapping places constantly.
Xaus’s race was made even more difficult towards the end when a very close encounter with Hodgson lost him his knee slider and he had to finish without being able to put his knee on the tarmac.
Regis Laconi rode a lonely race, finishing nine seconds behind the two Fila Ducati riders to take the third place on the podium. Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Gregorio Lavilla finished in fourth a further 23 seconds down.
Frankie Chili was forced to start from the pit lane after trouble with his Ducati 998 on the warm up lap, but the Italian rider pulled out all the stops to fight his way back through the field and take a well deserved fifth place.
The Australian duo of Steve Martin on a Ducati 998 and Troy Corser on the Foggy Petronas FP1 took sixth and seventh followed by Mauro Sanchini and Ivan Clementi on the Bertocchi Kawasakis and Marco Borciani on a Ducati 998.
Race two saw the Fila Ducati riders battling it out at the front again with Ragis Laconi sat in third place between them and the two HM Plant Ducatis of Chris Walker and James Toseland.
By lap nine Hodgson and Xaus had pulled out a six-second lead over Laconi with Hodgson leading all the way to lap 18 when Xaus forced his way through. But both the 999s were losing grip. Xaus had a big rear slide on lap 19 and a couple of corners later Hodgson went one step further and nearly highsided only just managing to save the bike before he ran in to the gravel trap. Luckily he managed to stay upright and turned the bike around to get back on track behind Chris Walker in fifth passing the British rider to end the race in a disappointing fourth.
Hodgson’s departure left the way free for Laconi to move up to second place followed by Lavilla in third.
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