Into the last five laps and Nieto was the man on the move, rising to third behind Poggiali and looking very confident on his Aspar Aprilia as he left Vincent behind in fourth.
Onto the penultimate lap and Cecchinello was still leading the way from Poggiali, Nieti and Vincent, but the Frenchman was now rapidly closing the 0.8secs gap to Nieto and by Lukey heights was all over the #22 rider's rear.
Poggiali continued to stalk the Cecchinello's machine as the final lap began – before making his move with a decisive outbraking effort at the Honda hairpin, while Vincent found himself boxed out at the same turn as he tried to force himself up the order.
Poggiali held the lead and was thrown a lifeline when Cecchinello stuttered coming out of the MG hairpin, his Aprilia wobbling nervously on the exit and allowing Poggiali just the room he needed to escape to the flag.
Behind the top two, Vincent was unable to frighten Nieto out of third despite all his efforts, and took fourth at the chequered flag just ahead of Pedrosa.
“Today my bike is competitive and I'm very happy,” beamed Poggiali in the press conference after his crucial victory. “This result is very important to me, the team and the championship which is very, very close now.”
“I lost control of my bike at the (MG) hairpin,” confirmed Cecchinello. “So I lost touch with Manuel and couldn't win, but I'm very happy as a podium is always welcome.”
Third placed Spaniard Nieto (sixth on the grid) added: “It was a very, very hard race. The important thing is that I'm on the podium which is great going in to Valencia.”
Full results to follow…