By the mid-point of the race Elias was all over Vincent, in what was now a duel for the lead, with third placed rider Steve Jenkner now trailing the top two by three seconds.
Elias took the lead on lap 10 with a neat move up the inside, and set off to break the tow to Vincent and claim his first Grand Prix victory. However, Vincent hung on, a surprise only because Elias had caught and passed the Frenchman with comparative ease.
6 laps to go and Elias was repassed by Vincent, the pair clearly playing with each other and counting down the laps. Meanwhile, Poggiali fell for a second – and final time – on lap 13, when as with nearly all the incidents today, the front wheel washed away.
Mere minutes later and Youichi Ui crashed into retirement from the #41 Derbi, while the top two continued serenely on up front, running nose-to-tail around the 6.049km circuit.
Behind the top two Jenkner still held third (8secs behind the lead pair), and was looking good for his first podium, while Nobby Ueda had now moved into fourth (over 20secs behind Jenkner), the TSR-Honda rain specialist having worked his way up superbly from a lowly twentieth place on the grid.
Two laps to go and Vincent still lead the Telefonica machine, but there was nothing between them and Elias looked poised to pounce. The move came with one and a half laps to go as Elias slid inside Vincent at a right hander – but had he gone too soon?
Into the last lap and Vincent was sat right on Elias' exhaust, but the blue Telefonica machine was beginning to pull out a slight lead over the Frenchman with a do or die approach around almost every corner.
Vincent was still within striking distance, but Elias rode a faultless last lap under pressure to take a well deserved first ever GP win, with Jenkner duly coming home in third.
Full results to follow…
2. Vincent +0.607secs
3. Jenkner +23.253secs
4. Ueda +33.979secs
5. Smrz +40.196secs
6. Borsoi +48.556secs
7. Giansanti +48.892secs
8. Hules +57.998secs