Meanwhile, Rolfo had and de Puniet had overtaken the injured Fonsi Nieto for fourth and fifth respectively, but the pair were over six seconds behind third placed Katoh.
Lap 16 and Harada swept inside Melandri and the bottom of the hill as the top three remained nose-to-tail at the front, with Melandri retaking the lead at the end of the main straight on the following lap – as Katoh stalked them both in third, never even attempting to pass either Aprilia at this stage.
The laps counted down and it not be until lap 21 of 29 that Katoh made his move on Harada for second, sliding effortlessly ahead at the first turn and pressuring Melandri – as the leaders began to catch backmarkers.
Melandri negotiated his way safely through them – even pulling a slight gap on Katoh – while Harada lost out the most, dropping back from Katoh.
Lap 24 and Katoh had recovered the deficit to Melandri and was clearly looking for a way past the MS Aprilia, this he found at the first turn, while Harada rejoined the fight soon after when a backmarker closed the top three up once again.
Melandri, still looking for his first 250cc Grand Prix victory, stayed glued to Katoh's rear wheel over the next few laps – while Harada seemed to be unable to match the lead duo, although he was benefiting from the backmarkers.
Then, heading into the final corner to start the last two laps Melandri's Aprilia bobbled badly under braking – forcing him to run wide and back off the power. Harada tried to pass but also had to back off as he nearly hit the rear of Melandri's machine.
Melandri started the final lap determined to make up the significant gap to Katoh - and was handed a lifeline when Katoh ran wide, but the Honda hero hung on – although Melandri was now all over him and a do-or-die move looked likely.
That move came with a skilled dive down the inside at the bottom of the daunting hill, and he swept through the final turn to hold the lead from Katoh across the line with Harada wheelieing home in third – clearly delighted to witness his teammate's victory.
Melandri was so delighted he stopped his Aprilia and in Sanna-like celebrations he ran up to the huge mass of fans and was immediately hoisted high in the air as the emotional Italian shook his fists with delight.
Full results to follow…
2. Katoh +0.052secs
3. Harada +0.203secs
4. Rolfo +18.310secs
5. de Puniet +28.108secs
6. Debon +36.566secs
7. Hofmann +36.566secs
8. Matsudo +36.918secs