The most exciting battle during Sunday's San Marino MotoGP was a three-way fight fourth between Marco Simoncelli, Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies.
Italians Simoncelli and Dovizioso were together from lap 5 onwards, when Simoncelli overtook countryman Valentino Rossi for fifth position. Spies then joined the battle just after the halfway stage of the 28 laps and the trio were separated by just 0.739sec at the line.
First across was Gresini Honda rider Simoncelli, who passed Dovizioso for the final time on the very last lap.
"A podium finish is always more satisfying than fourth place of course but this result feels just as nice because it was such a close and hard fight at the end," Simoncelli said. "Unfortunately I made a mistake and chose the wrong engine map at the start which made me lose touch with the front three, otherwise I maybe could have run with them.
"I had to make up ground and when I got to fourth place I defended it tooth and nail to win a wonderful battle with Dovizioso and Spies on the last lap. I had held fourth for 23 laps and I couldn't let myself lose it at the end. It was nice, I had fun and I think I provided some excitement for my fans."
Dovizioso, just 0.037sec behind Simoncelli, revealed that engine maps also played a part in his race, albeit before it had even begun.
“It was a tough race, I had to push hard and ride aggressively and we had to cut the power a lot due to fuel consumption issues," Dovi said. "We suffered from this during the whole race weekend, but after the warm up I received the bad news that we had to cut even more power.
"This hasn't been such a big issue this year and in fact it has never been the case that I am unable to match Simoncelli in acceleration. This stems from the riding style and the set up of the electronics, especially the engine braking. I knew that with this cut in power it would have been impossible to fight for the podium, so this affected my motivation.
"We had a good battle with Marco and Spies, on this occasion, for the first time this season Marco beat me so congratulations to Marco. It was a good battle but our target was to gain some points on Lorenzo and we didn't manage to."
Both Simoncelli and Dovizioso are yet to sign for 2012.
After a 'disastrous' change in morning warm-up, Factory Yamaha star Spies took a few laps to get comfortable on his M1.
“We started out with an ok set up but we didn't really go forward all weekend, struggling a lot with edge grip. I wasn't having a great feeling with the front either so we tried something new in warm up this morning which was honestly a disaster," Spies said.
"We changed the front end of the bike dramatically before the race which proved to be good but took a few laps to get confidence in as it was such a big change.
"Once I got around Rossi I got more comfortable and was able to get to the back of Dovi and Simoncelli but was still struggling with edge grip and couldn't get close enough to strike. I tried as hard as I could but just didn't translate into top five this time."