Biaggi soon worked his way past Gibernau to slot in behind his archrival, while Bayliss was impassable up front as a five-way fight between the Aussie, Rossi, Biaggi, Gibernau and Capirossi developed – with Checa and Hayden still in touch.
By lap 6 (of 22), what some believed would be a short-lived stint at the front for Bayliss was fast looking like genuine pace as he held his own ahead of Rossi, who in turn was having his every move carefully studied by Gibernau – all while Biaggi and Capirossi disputed fourth.
Was Rossi planning to use Bayliss as a blocker...?
All looked to be revealed when Rossi outbraked Bayliss to lead for the first time on lap 9 – only for Troy to tough it out around the outside and cut back ahead of the Italian, Sete must have been smiling as he watched the #46 being pushed around ahead of him.
Rossi tucked back into second for a further lap, then his patience ran out and after three
further attempts in successive corners finally got ahead and tried to disappear. Gibernau read the situation and pushed past Bayliss with an all-or-nothing move half a lap later, leaving the pressure on fourth placed Biaggi (now in a Ducati sandwich) to do the same if he wanted his eighth Brno win.
So, by the midway point the top five - Rossi, Gibernau, Bayliss, Biaggi and Capirossi - were separated by just 1.1secs, and just a lap later there was a further lead change when Gibernau breezed past, leaving Vale with the combative Bayliss to contend with once again.
Meanwhile, falling back fast was Biaggi, who by lap 13 had slipped down the order to sixth (behind Checa, just ahead of Hayden) with mystery problems - the Roman Emperors already slim championship chances disappearing with every position lost.
But all eyes were now on the mouth watering Gibernau, Rossi, Bayliss and Capirossi fight up front, with the Ducatis showing no sign of fading – while Rossi lost out badly when he tried to grab the lead, but ran wide and slipped to fourth.
A truly fantastic display of motor racing skill then followed as all but Capirossi took turns to lead as all four fanned out across the wide Brno circuit and thrilled the fans with some ultra-brave overtaking moves.
Into the closing stages and there was still little to chose between the top four, with only Bayliss suffering visible tyre problems and slipping to fourth (behind Rossi, Gibernau and Capirossi) as a result – but the whole group was still covered by 0.5secs.
But Ducati's dream day would come to an end with three laps to go when Capirossi's V4 lost all drive and ground to a frustrating halt, leaving Bayliss a safe looking second ahead of Checa, while Rossi and Gibernau were now locked in a straight two way fight for victory.