By that time, Jenkner was still languishing back in 10th, over 7secs behind Stoner, and things would get a lot worse when he lost the front and fell out of the biggest race of his life, on lap 18, for a disastrous (in championship turns) two DNFs in a row.
Into the final five laps and the race was still a four-way fight with Stoner (looking on edge) still leading – but he, de Angelis, Perugini and Pedrosa – were inseparable, with Nieto 3secs behind and closing.
The battle for the race really
began 3 laps later when the combative Perugini eased ahead of the Aussie and would lead the chasing trio at the start of the last lap.
Suzuka winner Perugini held firm in the face of increasing efforts from Stoner, and the LCR rider's efforts to win his first race saw him face some heart stopping moments on the final circulation.
Such scares would give Perugini the vital breathing room needed, but also allowed de Angelis to catch up to the rear wheel of the #27. Some close racing followed in the final few corners before Casey could claim his much deserved first podium finish, in second, ahead of the San Marinese by just over 0.1secs.
Pedrosa was never a factor during the last lap, appearing prepared to watch the trio ahead and make sure he took the flag after his penultimate turn exit at Donington two weeks ago.
Behind the top four, Nieto cruised home ahead of Talmacsi, Dovizioso and Stoners team owner/mate Cecchinello.
Perugini's victory means that Aprilia have now matched Suzuki in terms of all-time GP victories, with 154.
Full results to follow…
3. de Angelis