All riders had to start the race on wet tires, as the surface of the Mugello circuit was not dry enough to support an all-slick competition. Known as a wet-race specialist, Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was one of the riders to give Stoner a fight for the lead in the opening laps of the Italian GP, alongside Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen.
The three riders exchanged positions on top of the field, while Rossi and Kawasaki’s Marco Melandri were trailing the leading pack in 4th and 5th. Lorenzo got off to a wheel-spinning start and lost some valuable time in the first lap, but soon recovered and joined the Rossi-Melandri group.
Less than 10 laps into the race, though, both Rossi and Melandri managed to pass the leading trio, with the latter even demoting the 7-time Mugello winner to 2nd place before they both went to the pits to change bikes. Having pitted earlier for a new bike (on slicks), Dovizioso managed to stay in front of the pack, with Melandri and Rossi rejoining the field in 2nd and 3rd overall.
Rossi’s tire choice proved disastrous, as his hard slick tires were unable to get to the right temperature in time and caused the Yamaha rider to drop further down the pack. The same thing happened to Melandri, while Stoner and Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi went on to replace the two riders behind Dovizioso.
The Honda rider was unable to keep his good pace ahead of the field and was soon caught by Stoner and Capirossi, who then started to battle for 1st place. It was a short one, nonetheless, as Capirossi couldn’t keep up with Stoner and dropped position after position until the chequered flag.
When their tires finally got up to speed, both Yamaha riders – Lorenzo and Rossi – started challenging for the podium. While the Spaniard had no difficulty in overtaking Dovizioso for 2nd, Rossi had to really push to the limit to advance to 3rd place. Dovizioso had to settle for 4th, ahead of Capirossi and the Tech 3 Yamaha duo Colin Edwards and James Toseland.
The Top 10 was completed by Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who was followed by Pramac Ducati’s Niccolo Canepa and Suzuki’s Vermeulen.
Honda's Dani Pedrosa had to call it a day after only 14 laps, as he crashed out and further injured his hip. He needed medical assistance after crashing his bike and is now in danger of not making it to the upcoming Grand Prix, in Barcelona.
Stoner is now 1st overall in the riders’ classification, some 4 points ahead of Lorenzo and 9 points away from Rossi.