The first clean sweep of a motorcycling Grand Prix by three Spanish riders this season came at a perfect time for MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who clawed back nine vital points against championship leader Casey Stoner with a breathtaking overtaking maneuver at the Mugello circuit near Florence on Sunday.
It was Stoner who set the pace, easing from pole position into a commanding lead over Lorenzo and the rest of the pack. When his Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso delighted the Italian crowd by relegating Lorenzo to third, it seemed likely that another day of frustration was in store for the Mallorcan who had not won since the second race of the season, the Spanish GP at Jerez back in early April.
When Lorenzo slipped past Dovizioso with 12 laps to go, Stoner's two-second lead still seemed unassailable, the Australian improving on Mugello's lap record, set last year by Spain's Dani Pedrosa. But Stoner began to lose pace, and Lorenzo started to gain. On lap 17, with six remaining, Lorenzo braked his Yamaha late going into a downhill chicane, getting ahead on the right turn and managing to hold the racing line out to the left.
Stoner gave chase for a few minutes, but soon it was his own teammate, Dovizioso, who became his biggest worry, the Italian sneaking past for second place in the closing stages.
Stoner finishing third - Lorenzo said after the race that he did not know about Dovizioso's move and that the Australian had said he had come second when they chatted on the victory lap - meant the Spaniard cut nine points from the Honda man's championship lead instead of just five.
Stoner now has 152 points to second-placed Lorenzo's 133, with 10 Grands Prix still to be raced.
"It had been a long time without winning, and I dedicate this victory to the team," Lorenzo said on arrival in the pit area, adding: "You can never give up on the championship."
Behind the front three, Lorenzo's Yamaha teammate, US rider Ben Spies, finished fourth, the controversial Honda rider Marco Simoncelli was fifth, while home favorite and seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi battled through to finish sixth after a poor start on his Ducati.
Pedrosa, who came back after missing three races with a broken collarbone following his clash with Simoncelli in Le Mans, finished in a discreet eighth position.
Earlier in the day, Marc Márquez (Suter) continued his brilliant run of form in his first season in the Moto2 category after winning 2010's 125cc championship. The 18-year-old held off the final-lap challenge of championship leader Stefan Bradl (Kalex) for his third win in the last five Grands Prix, although the German still holds a commanding lead in the standings.
In the 125cc race, Nicolás Terol (Aprilia) kickstarted the Spanish treble with his fifth win in seven meetings this year.