Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo led from start to finish to win the San Marino Grand Prix and end world championship leader Casey Stoner’s run of three successive MotoGP wins on Sunday.
Lorenzo’s fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa took second place while Stoner finished third, his 11th consecutive podium finish.
Australian Stoner had pole position for the eighth time this season but world champion Lorenzo snatched the lead on the first bend and never looked back as he won his third race of the season.
Stoner saw his world championship lead over second-placed Lorenzo cut from 44 to 35 points with five races in the 18-race season still to go.
Andrea Dovizioso is 39 points further back in third place after finishing fifth, having been pipped for fourth spot on the final lap by his great rival and fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli.
Dovizioso had twice overtaken Simoncelli in a fierce battle between the pair.
For the first few laps, Stoner stalked Lorenzo and looked as if he was just waiting for a moment to make his move.
Instead, the Spaniard began to pull clear from the 12th lap and never looked in danger. Stoner, the 2007 world champion, surrendered second position to Honda team mate Pedrosa late in the race.
There was some light drizzle early in the race but the rain held off and the track quickly dried.
“It was just a case of not giving up and keeping working,” said Lorenzo.
“The team has done a great job to give me a competitive bike again and … we’ve been quick all weekend.”
“I expected a very hard fight with Casey but fortunately for me he lost some pace in the middle of the race.”
Stoner blamed sleepless nights for his performance.
“The bike felt pretty good, we were happy with the way the bike was performing,” he said. “I was sitting behind Jorge because there was some water and I didn’t want to be the one hitting the wet patches.
“I was comfortable, everything was working really well but halfway through the race, I just started getting tired.
“My arms were struggling on the brakes, I ran wide a couple of times, started braking earlier and it built from there.
“These last few races have been pretty tiring and a few bad nights’ sleep didn’t help. It was a tough race today, Jorge rode a fantastic race, he didn’t make any mistakes, so he was able to pull away at the front.”
Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi made a tremendous start as he burst from 11th on the grid to fifth place in the opening laps, before eventually finishing seventh.
1. Jorge Lorenzo, ESP Yamaha Factory Racing, 44m 11.877s
2. Dani Pedrosa, ESP Repsol Honda, 44m 19.176s
3. Casey Stoner, AUS Repsol Honda, 44m 23.844s
4. Marco Simoncelli, ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini, 44m 29.230s
5. Andrea Dovizioso, ITA Repsol Honda, 44m 29.267s
6. Ben Spies USA, Yamaha Factory Racing, 44m 29.969s
7. Valentino Rossi, ITA Ducati Marlboro, 44m 35.580s
8. Alvaro Bautista, ESP Rizla Suzuki, 44m 42.555s
9. Hector Barbera, ESP Mapfre Aspar, 44m 49.379s
10. Cal Crutchlow, GBR Monster Yamaha Tech3, 44m 49.597s
11. Hiroshi Aoyama, JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini, 44m 51.425s
12. Karel Abraham, CZE Cardion AB Motoracing, 44m 52.383s
13. Colin Edwards, USA Monster Yamaha Tech3, 45m 5.226s
14. Randy de Puniet, FRA Pramac Racing, 45m 14.243s
15. Toni Elias, ESP LCR Honda, 45m 32.033s
Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing
Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro
1 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 259
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 224
3 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 185
4 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 150
5 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 135
6 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro Team 133
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 105
8 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 93
9 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech3 87
10 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 82
11 Héctor Barberá Mapfre Aspar Team 69
12 Álvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 57
13 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 50
14 Toni Elías LCR Honda MotoGP 47
15 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech3 45
16 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 29
= Randy de Puniet Pramac Racing Team 29
18 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 6
19 Kousuke Akiyoshi San Carlo Honda Gresini 3