Casey Stoner saw off the challenge of teammate Dani Pedrosa to take his seventh win of the season, taking him another step closer to the 2011 MotoGP world championship. The Australian dominated yesterday's qualifying session and never looked like surrendering the lead once he had overcome the fast-starting Spaniard.
Despite starting from fourth place, Pedrosa breezed past the front row trio to lead around turn one. Stoner hadn't made a bad start himself but lost momentum to avoid his teammate and Jorge Lorenzo capitalised to take second.
Home favourite Ben Spies seemed to be the man most likely to challenge Stoner for victory after an impressive performance in qualifying. However, everything that could have gone wrong on the first lap did go wrong with Nicky Hayden demoting him to fifth at turn two before Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso pushed him down another two spots shortly afterwards.
The damage wouldn't stop there though as the American came dangerously close to hitting the Repsol Honda exiting turn four. Spies somehow regained control of the Yamaha but not before another two riders swept past.
The power of the Hondas became immediately apparent as Stoner breezed past Lorenzo at the start of lap three, forcing the Yamaha man into a battle with Simoncelli for third. The Italian made his move on lap five but a mini high-side coming onto the start/finish straight handed the place back to Lorenzo, signalling a dramatic fall down the order for the Gresini rider.
The sweltering heat was having a major effect on tyre wear but the battle for the lead was hotting up too. Pedrosa held his teammate back only as far as the seventh lap though as Stoner ducked underneath him into turn one. Stoner spoke before the race about the importance of leading the race and avoiding the need to deviate from the racing line on the slippery track. He now had his wish and promptly sped off into the distance.
Lorenzo was slipping further and further back but third place looked to be safe as immediate rivals Simoncelli and Hayden hit tyre problems but Spies was roaring back into contention. After making his way back past Dovizioso, as well as the toiling Honda and Ducati, he was zeroing in on the back of his teammate.
The two YZR-M1s got a little too close for the comfort of the mechanics watching on from the garage but Spies made the move stick on lap 17, leaving Lorenzo to make do with fourth for the second race running. The chequered flag came to his rescue as Dovizioso closed in on him in the latter stages, finishing just 0.626s behind.
Alvaro Bautista took a fine sixth for Suzuki as the main beneficiary of the tyre problems that hindered others. Colin Edwards also outperformed his machine to take seventh on the Tech 3 Yamaha while the battle behind him came to a dramatic conclusion.
Hector Barbera was embroiled in a fierce scrap with Randy de Puniet and Hiroshi Aoyama but an ambitious braking manoeuvre at the final corner sent him sliding out of the race, to the fury of his mechanics that were ready to welcome him home on the pitwall.
Valentino Rossi rounded out the top ten after a messy afternoon which saw the Italian encounter similar difficulties to his teammate. The Ducati star looked at one stage as if he was heading for the pits but changed his mind, with the confusion dropping him to the back of the field.
Rossi enjoyed an entertaining tussle with Cal Crutchlow as he recovered the lost ground and the demise of Simoncelli promoted him to tenth in the final stages, with Crutchlow finishing right behind in 11th.
Simoncelli fell all the way back to 12th while Toni Elias was the final runner on the lead lap. Nicky Hayden struggled so badly that he was forced to pit but ventured back out to finish 14th.
Although he completed one less lap than Barbera, riders must still be running at the finish to be classified, meaning Hayden scores a couple of points and the Mapfre Aspar rider leaves empty handed. The other two riders to fall out were also riding Ducatis with Loris Capirossi and Karel Abraham retiring in the pits with tyres that had cried enough.