Rossi thus held his lead on the exit and went on to win by 0.8secs, with Pedrosa producing arguably the ride of the race to finish just 3secs further back in third. But the shock podium was not without consequences for the Repsol Honda rider and he was forced to seek medical treatment immediately after the podium.
Meanwhile, Rossi celebrated his fifth victory of the season by taking a chair onto the podium and relaxing on it - to illustrate how exhausting the victory battle had been - and soon found Capirossi on his lap!
Championship leader Hayden ran fourth for the entire race - meaning his points lead over Pedrosa has been cut from 25 to 22 points, while Rossi has closed the gap from 38 to 26 with four races and 100 points still up for grabs, starting next weekend in Phillip Island.
Behind Hayden, Sete Gibernau took a safe fifth on his comeback ride, while Suzuki's John Hopkins recovered from a poor start that left him just eleventh at the end of lap one to claim sixth ahead of Roberts, Stoner, Melandri and Edwards.
Malaysian Grand Prix:
13. de Puniet