Valentino Rossi says it was emotional to take his first ever victory at Laguna Seca and thoroughly enjoyed the dice for the lead with Casey Stoner in the first half of the race.
The multiple champion had the speed to fight with Stoner from the start and the pair swapped the lead several times in what was the best battle of the season so far.
Rossi eventually triumphed when Stoner made a costly mistake at the final corner with eight laps to go and dropped his Ducati in the gravel.
The Italian was delighted to end Stoner's run of three consecutive victories.
"For me, this race was fantastic," said Rossi. "It's my first victory at Laguna Seca and the race was unbelievable. We made some modifications with the team before the race and I was able to get a better race pace. I was very fast and, after a good start, I had a great battle with Casey with a lot of overtaking. It was fun, a lot of fun.
"I started well, I got rid of Hayden immediately, and set my sights on Stoner. There were some corners where I was quicker than him and I was stronger under braking.
"I had to try to stay in front because it's difficult to overtake," he told Italia1 television. "I had to stay in the high 1:21s, I had the rhythm and tried to stay in front the whole race. It was very difficult but my bike worked very well and it was a great battle. To beat Stoner today we had to do a fantastic weekend.
"I don't know how many times we changed the lead but it was a lot and it was great, great racing for me and I think also for the fans, because it's been a while since we've been like this."
The result gives Rossi a 25-point lead in the championship heading into the four-week summer break, even though Stoner recovered to finish second.
"It's an important victory for sure," added Rossi. "It's emotional to win for the first time at Laguna. Now we have the summer break and we'll take some holidays and relax because this championship is so long."