Gibernau's resistance forced Rossi to release the pressure on his front brake slightly, allowing him to duly get inside Sete, but having done so Vale just couldn't stick to the racing line, resulting in him running wide onto the outside curve, while Sete slipped back inside, and the two would leave the finale turn almost level.
While both Honda rear wheels traling rubber and smoke, the pair pinned their throttles all the way to the flag, where it was Gibernau who hung on thanks to his smoother exit, by just 0.165secs.
Gibernau was nothing less than ecstatic at his second MotoGP win of the year, punching the air wildly as he'd barely calmed down when he returned to parc ferme some five minutes later.
''It was a really tough race, but I think myself, Valentino and Alex put on a good show,'' beamed Gibernau. ''There was no dirty riding, and I would like to thank them for a great race. Today I won, but for sure on another day it could have been either of them. I would also like to thank my team, they are doing an incredible job this season.''
Rossi meanwhile was truly gracious in defeat, shaking hands with Sete and Barros, before the trio performed huge burnouts for the crowd. Valentino would later admit it was the MotoGP fans that were the real winners today.
Barros was equally pleased with his - and Yamahas - first podium of the year, having been in contention in both the wet and dry while home hero Olivier Jacque rode a superb “second race” to take fourth ahead of Biaggi.
McWilliams sent his KR3 into retirement with a machine equalling best sixth, ahead of Ukawa, who struggled to replicate his dry pace in the second outing. Haga pulled out a promising result for both himself and Aprilia with eighth, just ahead of Kawasaki mounted McCoy, who must be relieved to finally open his Team Green account with the marques best MotoGP result to date.
MotoGP rookie Ryuichi Kiyonari took a very creditable thirteenth place in difficult conditions on his debut ride aboard the Honda RC211V– despite riding on cut slicks.
Not finishing the restart were Andrew Pitt
and Makoto Tamada, who both fell in the slippery conditions.
Full report and results to follow...