Valentino Rossi has put one hand on the 2008 MotoGP
World Championship with victory in front of his home fans at Misano on Sunday - a win that matches countryman Giacomo Agostini's all-time record of 68 premier-class victories.
Rossi's emotional triumph also marked Italy's 700th victory in grand prix racing and came after reigning world champion and nearest 2008 title rival Casey Stoner
crashed out of the lead for the second race in a row.
Stoner, who began the race from his seventh pole position in a row, but with a re-opened scaphoid fracture in his left wrist, charged to near two-second lead by the end of the opening lap - while Rossi was thrown out of the seat of his Fiat Yamaha as he attempted to demote a fast starting Dani Pedrosa
from second position.
Rossi sliced inside the Repsol Honda rider a lap later, by which time he was already 3.077secs behind Stoner - a deficit Rossi couldn't consistently reduce over the following laps.
Indeed, the seven time world champion - who began the race 50 point clear of reigning title holder Stoner - was still over three seconds behind the Desmosedici rider when Stoner made his third mistake in as many races, low siding from his factory GP8 on lap 8 of 28 and sliding into the gravel.
The accident left Ducati's head designer Filippo Preziosi with his head in his hands and gave Rossi a 2.9secs lead over Michelin-shod team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
The race-winning Spanish rookie, regaining form after a series of confidence sapping injuries, initially indicated he had the speed to threaten the #46 - but the three-second difference between the blue machines ultimately held right to the flag for a memorable one-two.
After crossing the line, Rossi enjoyed lengthy celebrations with his adoring fans - at a circuit just 15km from his home town of Tavullia - although, disappointingly for many, Agostini played no part. 'Ago', who had been present at Misano during practice, was apparently absent from race day.
Regardless, the pit straight was covered in a sea of yellow by the time Rossi mounted the podium, in total contrast to the atmosphere of one year ago - when Rossi had retired with engine problems on lap five of a Stoner dominated race.