But the closing stages were always where Pedrosa would face his biggest fitness challenge and, although he showed no signs of fatigue in terms of mistakes, the last five laps saw the #26 finally lose ground to Capirossi - although the #26's sensational victory challenge only realistically ended when he dropped 1.8secs from Loris with two laps to go.
Thus, Capirossi crossed the finish line to make a perfect start to the 2006 season, while Pedrosa - the revelation of the race - produced the best rookie performance since Max Biaggi's 1998 debut 500cc victory.
Further back, Hayden held off Elias by less than 0.1secs for the final podium position, while Rossi crossed the line over a minute down on Capirossi in 14th. Elias, having stepped from his bike to help light fireworks, apologised at length to Valentino for the first turn incident during their slow down lap - with Rossi's expressionless body language suggesting Toni could perhaps feel he was partially forgiven.
Regardless of what appeared a racing incident, Elias rode a brilliant race - a fact emphasised by the former Yamaha rider having caught, passed and then finished nearly 10-seconds ahead of race winning team-mate Melandri. Another strong ride came from Stoner, who clinched sixth by less than a tenth of a second from Kawasaki's front row starter Nakano, while Kenny Roberts
Jr put the brand new KR211V an impressive eighth on its race debut by passing former Suzuki team-mate John Hopkins
in the closing stages.
Konica Minolta Honda's Makoto Tamada completed the top ten, while Edwards 'recovered' to eleventh - less than two-seconds clear of Chris Vermeulen
- with Tech 3 Yamaha's Carlos Checa the last rider to finish in front of Rossi.
The final point went to d'Antin Ducati's Alex Hofmann, while Checa's team-mate James Ellison
was the final finisher - Kawasaki rookie de Puniet, who fell heavily in morning warm-up, joining the luckless Gibernau and Jose Luis Cardoso on the DNF list.
Round two of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship will take place at Qatar on April 8 - in which Rossi will hope to both solve his chatter problems and close the current 23-point gap to Capirossi.
Full results to follow...
Spanish Grand Prix: