Heading into the second half and, having put an aggressive pass on the former 125cc world champion, Elias was now just a few tenths clear of Poggy and bracing himself for the inevitable retaliation from the MS backed rider.
It would come on with 8 laps to go when, after exchanging positions several times, Elias dived for a narrow gap on the inside of a left hander to retake the lead. Unfortunately, Poggiali was heading for the same spot and the two made contact. Both kept their machines on two-wheels, but were in serious danger of running wide on the exit of the turn and only emergency action kept them on the track.
The collision would cost them little in terms of time, but Poggiali seemed to be shaken slightly and it would be several laps before he closed back to Elias' rear wheel. However, that he did, and with 5 to go the pair were back swapping positions as the thrilling bar-to-bar action continued.
It was clear that the race for first, and third, would be going right to the line as the last lap began with Poggiali leading Elias by just 0.169secs, and de Puniet ahead of Rolfo by a similar margin.
Elias dived inside his rival early in the lap, but Poggiali was sitting cool for the long back straight and calmly allowed himself to be sucked up to - and in front of - the #24 Aprilia. Realising what would happen, Toni tried to outbrake the San Marinese around the outside of the fast left hander that followed, but – perhaps inevitably – his front wheel folded and Elias was spat down the road.
He would remount his smashed Aprilia to limp home 18th, by which time Poggiali had finished a lonely 12.9secs ahead of his nearest rival – Rolfo, who in an equally tense fight beat de Puniet to the flag by just 0.054secs.
The loss of both Telefonica Aprilia riders from the points today means that Poggiali has taken a major step towards his second world title, now holding a 22 point advantage over Rolfo.
Further back, Davies held his own against the factory machines to cross the finish line a career best ninth for the KF Concept Aprilia Germany team.
Full results to follow…
3. de Puniet