But while positions were somewhat stationary upfront, Capirossi was making sure his 100th race would be remembered for all the right reasons as he charged from the back of the field at a frightening rate – and would incredibly catch and pass team-mate Bayliss for seventh on lap 17. A position he would hold to the flag. If only he hadn't been tagged by Biaggi...
Meanwhile, Tamada gave cause for hope in the Honda camp as he began to slowly but surely reel Rossi with 10laps to go – eventually closing to within 2.5secs. However, Rossi soon recognised the danger and would re-establish his lead at over the 3-second mark as the race entered its final phases. The battle for victory was effectively over.
But two positions still to be decided were for third - between Barros and Gibernau - and fifth – between Checa and Hopkins: Gibernau had been so close to Barros for so long that a move was always expected... but simply never came as the hard braking Brazilian held firm.
The Telefonica Honda rider would eventually bet his podium chances on a better exit out of the final turn, and while the Spaniard pulled almost alongside on the exit he soon lost momentum as he was forced over the kerb and briefly onto the grass as Barros held the racing line. The end result was fourth for Sete and the loss of 12 more points to Rossi.
Hopkins was also unable to find a way past Checa's factory Yamaha, but the 21-year-old would still claim a career best sixth – 0.6secs from the Spaniard – and on a day when Suzuki team-mate Kenny Roberts
crossed the line just 14th.
But by the time 'Hopper' finished, Rossi was already celebrating with the Portuguese fans after taking his sixth race victory of the season – and, most importantly, increasing his championship lead to over the 25-point and one race mark... thanks partly to the strong performances of Honda riders Tamada and Barros.
Full results to follow...
Portuguese Grand Prix:
14. Kenny Roberts