However, increasingly intense bickering between Stoner, Dovizioso and Barbera would let Pedrosa off the hook and by lap 12 the #3 had a 3.6secs lead, while Lorenzo (looking just as impressive as he'd been in Rio two weeks ago as he worked his way through the field), Kallio, Perugini, Jenkner and de Angelis were also able to catch the battling trio.
While things had been looking comfortable, Dani suddenly began losing two seconds a lap with mystery mechanical problems – and by lap 15 had been caught by Stoner et al. The young Aussie then made an untidy move for the lead, rynning wide in the process and allowing not just Pedrosa, but also Lorenzo and Barbera, back ahead.
But with Pedrosa unable to lap at anything under 2mins (+2secs from full race pace), it was only a matter of time before he lost the lead and two laps later Barbera made his move stick, being shortly followed by Stoner, Dovizioso and Lorenzo – with any of the top four in contention.
Make that three. On Lap 18 Lorenzo wobbled on the entry to the left-right chicane, his Derbi then refusing to turn right at the exit and forcing the youngster off the circuit. He would drop his machine with the tyre wall fast approaching, before remounting.
Meanwhile, the last lap began with Barbera leading Stoner and Dovizioso by next to nothing and, after defending his position from Dovizioso, the Aussie looked to have his first GP win in sight as he sized up the fellow teenager in front. But no matter how hard he pushed, the injured LCR rider just couldn't find a way past the faultless Barbera – who went on to take his second ever victory (his first being Donington) by just 0.164secs.
Dovizioso duly crossed the line third, while 2.5secs further back both Perugini and Jenkner found their way past the limping Honda of Pedrosa by the flag. Nevertheless, Pedrosa's sixth place keeps his title hopes on target.
Full results to follow...