Marc Marquez claimed a last lap victory in a pulsating Australian MotoGP, after a gripping four-way dogfight left riders and fans gasping for breath.
The 22-year old Repsol Honda rider broke the voluptuous Phillip Island circuit's lap record to pass Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo on turn ten of the final lap.
Just behind, Ducati's Andrea Iannone snatched the last podium place from championship leader Valentino Rossi.
The race, in perfect conditions, was a vibrant showcase of MotoGP's appeal and its best riders' talents. Spectators were treated to pass after pass, with less than a second separating the first four at the flag. Iannone even recovered from hitting a seagull on the first lap, with the unfortunate bird slamming a hole in the fairing of the Italian's bike.
Marquez was clearly overjoyed at the win -- his first premier class victory in Australia. "It was a really fun race - certainly one to remember," he told reporters. "At the end I overtook Iannone and Valentino and I had a great last lap; I don't know where I pulled that time out from, but it was what made the difference for us!"
The result sees Rossi's lead over Lorenzo cut to just 11 points, entering the final two races of a memorable season. Two-time defending champion Marquez is 74 points adrift but can still influence the outcome of the championship as he did Sunday.
Lorenzo was disappointed not to take the win, but happy to claw back valuable points on his teammate.
"I think this was the most exciting race of the season and for sure one of the best in the last few years. To have four of the fastest riders fighting for victory in all the corners for the whole race is unbelievable," he said. "It could have been more but it also could have been less, but it's enough. At some point you have to be happy, look ahead to continue delivering this good work during the last two races."
Rossi meanwhile was left to rue his inability to hold off compatriot Iannone. The "Doctor" has a superb record in Australia, but struggled to exert his authority throughout the race weekend, qualifying on the third row.
"I had a good pace and good speed during the race, so arriving in fourth place is a pity, but it was still a good race," he told reporters. "We already said that race results was going to be important ten rounds ago, but now it's really important and it will be very tough until the last race."
MotoGP now travels to Malaysia for next weekend, before returning to Europe for the final race on 8 November. The race for the top prize could scarcely be tighter.
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 40m 33.849s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 40m 34.098s
3. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP15) 40m 34.779s
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 40m 34.907s
5. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 40m 38.911s
6. Maverick Viñales ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)* 40m 40.649s
7. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 40m 43.224s
8. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 40m 52.250s
9. Aleix Espargaro ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 40m 53.888s
10. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 40m 54.506s
11. Scott Redding GBR Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V) 40m 55.695s
12. Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Pramac Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 40m 56.689s
13. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP15) 41m 3.017s
14. Alvaro Bautista ESP Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 41m 11.093s
15. Jack Miller AUS LCR Honda (RC213V-RS)* 41m 14.041s
16. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14 Open) 41m 22.112s
17. Yonny Hernandez COL Octo Pramac Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 41m 22.421s
18. Loris Baz FRA Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha)* 41m 22.526s
19. Eugene Laverty IRL Aspar MotoGP Team (RC213V-RS)* 41m 24.050s
20. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14 Open) 41m 24.111s
21. Stefan Bradl GER Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 41m 24.126s
22. Toni Elias SPA Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 41m 54.791s
23. Anthony West AUS AB Motoracing (RC213V-RS) 41m 57.303s
Nicky Hayden USA Aspar MotoGP Team (RC213V-RS) DNF
Damian Cudlin AUS E-Motion IodaRacing (ART) DNF