Jorge Lorenzo blew the MotoGP Championship fight wide open again with a stunning victory in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano. After such a close qualifying session, the stage was set for a head-to-head battle between the two title contenders but Yamaha's number one disappeared into the distance to win by over seven seconds.
Nerves were jangling in the run up to the start as rain began to fall on the Adriatic coast. A dry race was declared but flag-to-flag rules applied with riders allowed to change bikes should the rain persist.
Casey Stoner made a fast start from pole position but Lorenzo's desire was immediately on display as he charged up the inside into turn one. Stoner held on to second, aided by a poor start for Dani Pedrosa who had Andrea Dovizioso hot on his heels.
The capacity crowd all had their eyes on Valentino Rossi and their hero made an astonishing start to take seventh through the first chicane. With the drizzle levelling the playing field, the Ducati was flying and he was up to fifth by the time he came through turn one for the second time.
Sadly for the passionate fans though, the rain stopped shortly afterwards allowing Marco Simoncelli to come back at his fellow countryman, taking back fifth with a forceful move on lap five. The Gresini rider was on the move and quickly reeled in Dovizioso, snatching fourth three laps later.
Back at the front, Stoner was looming large on the tail of Lorenzo with Pedrosa keeping a watching brief in third but shortly before half distance, the Australian started to slip back at an alarming rate, losing as much as half a second per lap to the leader.
Stoner revealed in his post-race interview that he was feeling fatigued and before long, his concern wasn't with the man ahead of him, but with the increasingly threatening Pedrosa.
With six laps remaining, the inevitable happened as Pedrosa stormed past at turn 11 but thankfully for Stoner, the battle for fourth was ten seconds further down the road allowing him to ease home in third.
After leading the chasing pack earlier on, Simoncelli started to fall back into the clutches of Dovizioso and Ben Spies, while Rossi's pace also tailed off leaving him back in seventh. Dovizioso regained fourth into turn ten on lap 26 but the Gresini rider was never going to go away without a fight.
All hell broke loose on the final lap as Simoncelli dived past into turn seven, although his slow exit speed left him exposed on the run towards turn eight. The protagonists were three abreast under braking for the corner with Spies leaving his too late, dropping back to the tail of the group. A moment's hesitation from Dovizioso was all the opportunity Simoncelli needed to secure fourth, eventually getting to the line 0.037s ahead of his fellow Honda rider.
Spies had to settle for sixth while Rossi ended up five seconds further back in seventh. Alvaro Bautista finished where he started in eighth while Hector Barbera snatched ninth from Cal Crutchlow on the final lap.
Tech 3 teammate Colin Edwards struggled with arm pump which dropped him behind Hiroshi Aoyama and Karel Abraham to 13th while Randy de Puniet and Toni Elias claimed the final points.
Loris Capirossi's final home race ended in disappointing fashion as he was forced to retire in the pits early on while Nicky Hayden's miserable record at Misano continued with a crash on lap three.