Behind the top three, battles raged all through the order – and throughout the race - with plenty of thrills and spills thrown in to keep the Donington fans on their feet:
Hayden eventually claimed fourth, but only managed to shake off Bayliss when he himself made an error through the Craner Curves on lap 18. The American appeared to lose the front of his Honda through the left hand flick, leaving long black rubber marks on the surface.
Somehow Nicky held on, but Bayliss was distracted by the drama just a few metres ahead and went straight on at high speed. At that point the Australian's off road experience paid off as he safely shot through acres of wet grass, before eventually bringing his bike under control and rejoining the circuit just after Starkey's Bridge. The episode cost him five seconds and any chance of fourth place.
Carlos Checa rode to an uneventful sixth, a further 5secs behind the Australian, while Capirossi brought his Desmosedici home in seventh – just ahead of Suzuki's John Hopkins.
Having started just 16th on the grid, 'Hopper' rode a truly storming race to finish within sight of the red and white machine ahead – on a day when team-mate Kenny Roberts
However, Norick Abe
had been battling with Capirossi and Hopkins for that seventh position late in the race, after charging up the order from seventeenth. The Japanese seemed to be riding a different machine as he lapped up to 2.5secs quicker than those around him... only for it all to end in a painful DNF.
With five laps to go Abe was hassling Capirossi when his Gauloises Yamaha launched him into a huge highside through the Craner Curves. It was his second big accident in a week and as Norick was thrown rag doll like across the grass it was all to easy to imagine how his cracked ribs were feeling... he would be helped away on a stretcher.
Abe's spectacular exit allowed Neil Hodgson to take his targeted top ten home GP finish (behind Alex Barros); the injured d'Antin Ducati rider having risen from 14th on lap 1 to take the chequered flag one place ahead of team-mate Ruben Xaus, and claim top Brit honours.
Then came Max Biaggi: The Roman began the Donington race just one point from Rossi, but never looked anything like his true self as he slipped steadily backwards to an eventual twelfth.
Max would punch the fuel tank with disgust as he crossed the line almost one-minute from Rossi and it can only be assumed he suffered some kind of technical problem. Whatever the cause of his woes, Biaggi leaves England tied on points with Gibernau in the championship standings, having lost 21 to Rossi this afternoon.
Brit Shane Byrne, Biaggi's Camel Honda team-mate Makoto Tamada and Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano
completed the point scorers.