After qualifying on the front row, Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards finished a demoralising eleventh with fellow American Kenny Roberts 15th and last for Team Roberts.
Rookie Sylvain Guintoli took a credible 13th while Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Makoto Tamada failed to finish after missing his braking point for the hairpin early in the race and colliding with countryman - and 2007 replacement at the Konica Minolta Honda team - Shinya Nakano. Both Japanese were eliminated.
Round five of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship will take place at Le Mans, France, on May 20. The twisty stop-go circuit should suit the characteristics of Rossi's Yamaha much more - but Stoner, Ducati and Bridgestone can't be ruled out anywhere.
Chinese Grand Prix:
8. de Puniet