Brad Binder, meanwhile, became the first South African to win three Grands Prix in a row since Kork Ballington in 1979.
Lorenzo made an incredible start from fifth on the grid to lead into Turn 1 as Honda privateer Jack Miller, factory Aprilia rider Alvaro Bautista and Loris Baz (Ducati) all came together and crashed out.
Rossi tried to pass Lorenzo into Turn 1 on every lap, but Lorenzo remained in charge thanks to his incredible performance under braking. Their battle allowed Marquez to close down the Yamaha pair, until the trio were covered by less than half a second, as Lorenzo closed every door that Rossi tried to open, defending at every corner.
Further down the field Andrea Iannone (Ducati) and Maverick Vinales Suzuki recovered from their poor starts as they blasted past Ducati privateer Scott Redding at the end of the main straight to move into seventh and eighth respectively.
Then, on lap eight the huge Mugello crowd fell silent as Rossi suddenly slowed with a technical problem, dropping down to ninth before pulling off the circuit and catching a lift back to the pits on the scooter of a travelling marshal, his head bowed in.
But the race was by no means over, with Marquez right behind Lorenzo at half distance. Their battle wasn’t the only one as Iannone continued his comeback from a poor start until he was disputing third with factory Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, while Dani Pedrosa on the second works Honda closed in on them.
Marquez launched his first attack on lap 20 but ran wide, leaving Lorenzo still in the lead – but he kept trying and passed Lorenzo at the start of the final lap. Marquez looked to have the race won as they exited the final corner but his front wheel lifted ever so slightly and Lorenzo able to grab an incredible photo-finish win by just 0.019s - the closest finish of the year.
Pedrosa and Iannone took their battle for third down to the final lap with Iannone in front went in counted by a scant 0.168s. Ever wondered just how fast a MotoGP bike actually is? During the race Iannone’s Ducati hit a record 354.9km/h down Mugello’s main straight.
The win put Lorenzo 10 points clear of Marquez at the top of the championship standings, with Rossi now 37 points behind the leader.
In a two-part race where the top 11 were all Kalex-mounted, Tom Luthi and Lorenzo Baldassarri led into Turn 1, but collided and dropped, leaving the door open for pole-sitter Sam Lowes to grab the lead with Takaaki Nakagami second, desperately trying to fend off the always aggressive Baldassarri.
Alex Rins moved up from ninth on the grid to fifth, just before Alex Marquez and Luca Marini collided at Turn 3 on the third lap and both crashed out. Early in the fourth lap Luthi slid neatly past Lowes and back into the lead, as the leading five began to break away from the pack.
Moments later, however, Tech 3 rider Xavier Vierge lost the front at Turn 13; his bike hit the air fence hard enough to deflate part of it and bring out the red flags.
With the fence pumped up again, the race was restarted, with grid positions as at the end of lap three, as a 10-lap sprint .
Luthi was quickest off the line, ahead of Lowes, as Hafizh Syahrin shot into third – but Baldassarri was again a man on a mission, pushing his way into the lead, ahead of Luthi, Syarin, Zarco and Lowes.
The shortened race produced thrilling action as tyre wear was of no concern, with Baldassarri, Zarco and Luthi battling it out at the front while Axel Pons closed in on the leading group and Rins moved back up through the filed, having been sent to the back of the grid for delaying the re-start.
It was between Zarco and Baldassarri as the final lap began, with Baldassarri attacking into San Donato and Zarco striking back to hold on for the win by just 0.030s, while Sam Lowes put in a last-lap charge to snatch third from Luthi.
Syahrin took a superb fifth ahead of Pons while Rins made a remarkable comeback to finish sixth.
Polesitter Romano Fenati (KTM) held the advantage into Turn 1, taking Sky Racing team-mate Andrea Migno with him as Binder on the factory KTM moved up into third.
The leading group were carving each other up on every lap, going five abreast into and swopping places like a five-way shell game, as each lap saw more riders using the slipstream down the 1.141km main straight to join them, until the top 20 were all within touching distance.
Disaster struck for Fenati on lap 10 as his bike expired while he tried to move into the lead; two laps later Honda rider Jorge Navarro collided with another rider in Turn 15 and crashed out.
With his two closest rivals for the title out of the race, Binder could settle for a safe third and still leave Mugello with a huge points advantage – but that’s not how he does things.
Binder made his move on the final lap, opening up just enough of a gap to break the slipstream, although Honda privateer Fabio Di Giannantonio closed to within 0.038s at the line to score his first points of the years with a brilliant second place at his home circuit. Francesco Bagnaia (Mahindra) was this, while Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) and Fabio Quartararo (KTM) were unable to pass in the slipstream, despite their best efforts and had to settle for fourth and fifth respectively.
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Original source: Three in a row for SA’s Brad Binder!