But by lap 19 the track was beginning to flood, conditions Hayden had struggled badly in on Friday, and he began losing several seconds a lap as he fought to keep his RCV on two wheels. Lorenzo smelt blood and was on the verge of seizing second position when the red flags were finally waved with seven laps to go.
Race direction had almost certainly been waiting for two-thirds distance to be run, so that a result could be declared, but it then seemed that a restart was possible. After ten minutes of confusion, during which an air fence was seen being blown into the air and a Yamaha awning collapsed, it was decided that there would be no restart.
After climbing the top step of the podium for the 69th time, Rossi gave his jacket to a frozen podium girl then celebrated increasing his world championship lead over Stoner from 75 to 87 points, with just four races and 100 points left.
Stoner, having crashed out while leading at the last two events, could be forgiven for feeling satisfied with fourth position whilst Dovizioso dropped to fifth after his early heroics.
Wild-card Ben Spies took a MotoGP best of sixth for Rizla Suzuki, losing just one place from fifth in the dry qualifying session, while Alice Ducati's Sylvain Guintoli used his wet weather skills to charge from 14th at the end of lap one to seventh by the time the race was stopped.
Dani Pedrosa finished his first MotoGP race with Bridgestone tyres and the pneumatic-valve Honda in a creditable eighth, while Chris Vermeulen - a MotoGP race winner in the wet - must surely have hoped for better than ninth.
Honda Gresini's Alex de Angelis rounded out the top ten on a day when incredibly, given the conditions, all 19 riders finished the race.
Indianapolis Grand Prix:
10. de Angelis
13. de Puniet