Even so, though few would have expected Stoner to be challenging for a podium given the series of injuries sustained in his leg and ankle after a massive crash in qualifying, the Australian did almost exactly that as he defied the pain to finish in fourth place.
Resisting the temptation to simply ride for points, Stoner recovered from a bad start to go bar-to-bar with Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso, getting as high as third mid-way through the race.
Not surprisingly, fatigue would set in during the latter stages as Dovizioso's renewed attack on third was rewarded with a late pass, but fourth place for Stoner nonetheless keeps him well in the title fight as he prepares for the short turnaround to Brno next weekend.
As for Dovizioso, his third place marks an excellent fifth podium of the season for both himself and Tech 3 Yamaha, a result that puts further distance between himself and Cal Crutchlow – who suffered his first DNF of the year when he fell at low speed on lap ten – in the overall standings, and sets him up nicely for this week's much expected announcement that he will be riding for Ducati in 2013.
Having struggled for form in recent races, Alvaro Bautista put in only the fifth MotoGP top five finish of his career aboard the Gresini Honda, the Spaniard getting a further confidence boost by beating fellow satellite Honda rider Stefan Bradl, the German settling for sixth.
With Hayden unable to start and both Spies and Crutchlow failing to finish, Valentino Rossi
benefitted in their absence to notch up a solid seventh place finish on paper, though few will ignore that the Italian would cross the line almost half a minute adrift of Bradl up ahead of him at the end of a very lonely race for the former champion.
Behind him, Karel Abraham showed flashes of the form that marked him out as a promising newcomer in 2011 on the way to eighth place, the Czech rider working his way up the order on the Cardion AB Ducati to secure his best finish of what has been an injury-hampered season.
With the high attrition rate paving the way for lesser fancied riders to shine, the CRT class got a new winner in the shape of Yonny Hernandez, who turned his encouraging practice pace into a superb race performance, the Colombian scoring well in ninth to record his and the Blusens Avinitia first-ever class win.
Despite giving second best to Hernandez, Aleix Espargaro's tenth place finish – coupled to Randy de Puniet's technical-induced retirement – means the Spaniard has moved clear in their fight for overall CRT honours.
Elsewhere, Toni Elias
scored his first points for Pramac Ducati in 11th place, ahead of Ivan Silva, Colin Edwards
and James Ellison, while wild-card Rapp – other than his staunch defence against Lorenzo – performed well to pick up the 15th and final point aboard the Kawasaki-powered Attack APR.
UPDATED: Ellison demoted one place, to 15th, for cutting the track.