Meanwhile, 10-seconds further back, Loris Capirossi took his and Ducati Marlboro's first podium finish of the season after winning an equally tense fight between himself, Colin Edwards, Alex Barros, Nicky Hayden, Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada. All six were separated by just two-seconds at the flag.
Capirossi had held third position for much of the early part of the race, but was passed by Barros on lap 9. Both the Brazilian and the Italian would then drop back from the top two from the halfway point onwards and were caught by the chasing pack.
Home hero Troy Bayliss ran as high as fourth in the early laps, after a strong start, but would fade steadily back to ninth in his penultimate race for the factory Ducati team.
Carlos Checa, Ruben Xaus, Shinya Nakano, Alex Hofmann, Jeremy McWilliams and John Hopkins completed the points finishers.
Full results to follow...