Elias made a lunge at turn one, but ran wide and had to return to third, before starting a frantic battle with Poggiali for second that saw the pair swap places several times before making it stick.
But their battle allowed de Puniet to gain vital ground and Elias simply ran out of road as he closed down the flying Frenchman who was naturally ecstatic at taking such a hard fought - and well deserved - victory.
Indeed, the race was a true 250 classic, conjuring up memories of past quarter-litre battles of the Biaggi/Capirossi/Harada era, while in championship terms Nieto's distant sixth means Poggiali increases his points lead to nine over the Spaniard.
Full results to follow...
1. de Puniet