takes a look back at the ten closest race finishes since the start of the four-stroke MotoGP era, in 2002, then (in part 2) reveals a breakdown of the close finishes by year, rider, circuit and engine size...
1. 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix - Estoril (990cc):
Toni Elias wins by 0.002sec over Valentino Rossi.
The race considered by many to be the finest of the four-stroke era ended with eleventh-on-the-grid Toni Elias snatching his first and so far only premier-class victory from world champion Valentino Rossi by 0.002sec on the run to the chequered flag.
Elias began the last lap in third place, then overtook both Rossi and Kenny Roberts Jr into turn one! Rossi then got back in front, but Elias shot past him out of the final turn.
“I pushed until I closed up on Valentino and then passed him to lead a MotoGP race for the very first time [on lap 22 of 28],” recalled Elias. “Then I made three errors all at once and decided to back off.
“I felt very comfortable at the first corner and did not want to let the opportunity go on the final lap. Then when Rossi got me back I never gave up. I can't believe I've won my first MotoGP race!”
Rossi admitted Elias 'rode like a devil' that day.
Elias' victory for Honda Gresini remains the last time that a satellite rider has won a MotoGP race and it wasn't until 2009 that another race was won by a last lap pass.
Estoril 2006 is also remembered for the shocking collision between Repsol Honda team-mates Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa misjudged an early-race overtake, bringing down both riders and removing Hayden from the world championship lead with one round to go.
But while Camel Yamaha rider Rossi took the title advantage for the first (and last) time, he went on to lose the championship to Hayden by five points at Valencia - the same number of points he lost by finishing second to Elias at Estoril.
Former world champion Roberts Jr was just 0.176sec from victory as he took the final podium of his grand prix career and the last by Team Roberts, which withdrew from MotoGP at the end of 2007.
Roberts Jr took the lead on the penultimate lap, having thought the race was over one lap early.
2. 2003 Czech Republic Grand Prix - Brno (990cc):
Valentino Rossi wins by 0.042sec over Sete Gibernau.