Despite their best efforts, Rossi and Biaggi would remain in deadlock - Biaggi unable to close below the one-second mark, while a wheel spinning Rossi couldn't pull anymore than a two-second lead - for the rest of the race and, with Barros and Hayden in a relatively lonely third and fourth, attention now turned to Capirossi and Tamada.
Both were now circulating at speeds almost identical to the top two; Capirossi would catch and pass Checa for sixth by lap 14, then grabbed fifth from Gibernau one lap later – the Italian sliding the rear of his Desmosedici as he hit the brakes.
Tamada was also fast becoming a factor, the Japanese having matched Capirossi's progress through the field and, after also despatching Checa and Gibernau, would overtake the factory Ducati rider himself in the closing stages.
However, Tamada won't have been pleased to finish only 1-second ahead of fellow Bridgestone rider Nakano, who claimed eighth place for Kawasaki – and was just few tenths from Gibernau.
But by then, having gently extended his lead to 3secs on the final lap, a delighted Rossi had taken the chequered flag – waving excitedly to his team, then the Sepang fans, before stopping with his friends further around the slow down lap for some 'special' celebrations – but what did they have planned?
When a brush was produced the penny dropped and Vale proceeded to sweep the ground in front of his Yamaha – a reference of course to his Qatar penalty – and much to the delight of his fans and the waiting photographers.
But 'revenge' aside, Rossi has now taken his seventh win of the season - matching previous Yamaha legends Wayne Rainey
and Eddie Lawson
- and most significantly increased his world championship lead from 14 to 30-points after title rival Gibernau limped home in a distant seventh.
Gibernau's attempts to congratulate Rossi on the slow down lap appeared to be ignored... while Biaggi's gestures were warmly welcomed. (Max would later claim a MotoGP first when he dropped, and smashed, his champagne bottle on the podium).
Rossi now needs to keep his championship advantage at 25-points or over by the end of next Sunday's Australian Grand Prix to take his sixth world title.
Full results to follow...