When Marc Marquez caught up to French MotoGP leader Valentino Rossi just before the halfway stage of the race, the pair looked set for a tough battle.
Both revel in the chance for some close combat, with Rossi also making clear his desire to try and halt Marquez's unbeaten run.
Instead Rossi ran wide and gifted Marquez the advantage, the reigning world champion immediately putting enough ground between himself and Rossi to rule out retaliation by the Italian.
“I'm happy with my race and did everything right at the start. I got in front and tried as hard as possible but it was more difficult with the front tyre today, maybe because the asphalt was hot,” recalled Rossi, who declared his desire for a new two-year Yamaha contract just before the start of the weekend.
“Anyway I tried the maximum and my pace was not so bad. I was waiting for Marc or Jorge and Dani to arrive, when Marc arrived I tried to push a lot to stay on the 1'34.0 to make the work difficult for him but in the crucial moment of the whole race I made one mistake.
“I braked a little bit too deep and went wide. It's a great pity because I think today I could fight with Marc and had a small chance to beat him. It would have been very hard, but for sure fun, Unfortunately like this it was too easy for Marc. I hoped he would wait for me but... he didn't!”
Marquez went on to claim a memorable victory after being as low as tenth on the first lap, while Rossi collected his third runner-up finish from five starts and his 150th premier-class podium.
“Also in Austin I could have finished on the podium easily without the problem with the front tyre and in Argentina I was fast but arrived fourth after a mistake. It means I am competitive every race and especially I can ride the bike in a very good way and I enjoy a lot this year. I can ride at the limit. I'm proud to be here and have three podiums out of five races. Now we have to try for the 25 points.”
And there would be no better place for Rossi to take his first win of the year than in front of his home fans next time at Mugello:
“It is 25 points for the victory like the other races, but it is a question of honour at Mugello. It is a special weekend. One of my favourites and I'm looking forward to it because Jorge won for Yamaha in the past three years, so it means the M1 is competitive there. I know it will be hard with the Hondas and Marc but we have to try.”
Rossi is now within two points of Dani Pedrosa and second in the world championship. The Doctor is also 36 points clear of Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who struggled to sixth in the race.