McCoy finally made the move stick on lap 6 when he moved inside the West Honda Pons bike at the same corner where Biaggi and Roberts had collided. Watching the tussle up front had been Rossi, but he needed to get a move on as Abe, Barros and Nakano began to catch the top three.
Rossi responded by taking second from Capirossi just one lap later, by which time Abe was ready to challenge for the podium, being pushed all the way by Alex Barros.
McCoy was unable to shake off the pursuing pack, and by lap 9 Rossi was just 0.3secs behind, but that would change when Rossi came close to losing his Honda on the exit of a medium speed left hander – forcing him to sit up briefly. However, by the end of the lap Vale was back on McCoy's rear wheel, the Yamaha appearing to pull away slightly along the straights, before Rossi would close up once again.
Into the hard braking area at the final hairpin for the tenth time and Rossi ran a little wide – allowing Capirossi through to second, briefly, before the yellow Honda snuck back in front at a tight left hander later in the lap.
Into the hairpin on lap 11 and Rossi left his braking to the absolute last millisecond – sending his Honda's rear wheel skipping in all directions, but it allowed him to close right up on McCoy and the resulting slipstream along across the start/finish line saw him take the lead into turn one.
Mirroring Rossi's move was Norick Abe, the d'Antin rider slipping inside Capirossi for third in the first tight right-left turn, as the Japanese enjoyed his best showing since Jerez.
Over the next few laps Rossi began to pull away from McCoy, while Abe had his hands full fighting Capirossi – and perhaps distracted by the black and white machine running wide at the hairpin on lap 14, Abe lost the front as he tried to take a tight line inside 'Capirex.' Abe would rejoin in thirteenth, but any chance of a podium finish was clearly gone.
Meanwhile, within two laps Capirossi had recovered significantly to take second from McCoy, while Nakano had now closed to the rear of the #5 Red Bull machine to make it a tight three way battle for second.
McCoy and Capirossi swapped places once again later in the lap, all of which helped to increase Rossi's lead to almost four seconds, with five laps to go.
With two to go the battle for second was still as close as ever, with McCoy, Capirossi and Nakano still nose to tail, the deadlock being broken into turn one after Capirossi pulled out an amazing late braking move on McCoy and tried to hang on for one more lap.
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