What would worry them was when they crossed the start line at the end of the lap and saw that rain master Azuma – now up to third – had closed the gap by over 3secs between the leaders and chasing pack, which consisted of the Japanese, Perugini, Talmacsi and a dropping Nieto.
Five to go and the gap was down to 4.5secs – this was going to be a Hollywood ending – as Azuma and Co were now well in sight of the top two and itching for a fight. Such was the Gilera team alarm that they were frantically pointing at Poggiali's pit board to illustrate how close Azuma now was when he next crossed the line.
But it was too late! With just 4 to go Azuma, who had now dropped Perugini, was all over the leading duo and took second place from Vincent after the long back straight, then used his Bridgestone rubber to power past Poggiali three turns later.
Poggiali now faced a dilemma: Chase Azuma for maximum points and risk falling, or concentrate on denying Vincent. The San Marinese seemed to try his luck at staying with the veteran, but the orange machine began to ease ahead, and Poggiali now had his hands full with Vincent.
And so it was that the race long duel between the two would go down to the final corner, with Poggiali starting the last lap with only the smallest of advantages over Vincent. The Frenchman tucked into the Gilera's slipstream along the back straight and with the bravest of outbraking manoeuvres took second – but Poggiali hadn't given up and looked inside the Aprilia at every turn, albeit to no effect, and the order was Azuma, Vincent and Poggiali as they crossed the line – with Talmacsi taking a career best fourth.
Vincent now holds a championship lead greater than the psychological one race advantage and Poggiali's body language showed his disappointment after giving his all.
But the day belonged to 31 year old Azuma, who once again taught the youngsters how to ride in the wet as he claimed his tenth 125cc Grand Prix victory in the most challenging of conditions – and from just eighteenth on the grid.
Full results to follow…