Casey Stoner mastered dreadful conditions to win the British MotoGP at Silverstone and overtake Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the standings.
The Repsol Honda rider started from pole position and was untroubled as he made light of pouring rain to win by 15.159 seconds from Andrea Dovizioso.
Defending champion Lorenzo suffered a high-speed crash while Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli also tumbled out.
Colin Edwards, riding with a broken collarbone, claimed a superb third.
Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista completed the top five with Valentino Rossi finishing sixth on his first outing at Silverstone, after starting on the back row of the grid.
There were no British riders on display after Cal Crutchlow crashed in qualifying on Saturday and broke his collarbone, but a large crowd still turned out to see Stoner win his fourth race of the season on his 150th Grand Prix start.
Having started seven points adrift of Lorenzo in the championship standings, he now leads the Spaniard by 18 points, and team-mate Dovizioso by 33.
Lorenzo had the best start to lead into turn one but the Hondas of Dovizioso and Stoner were soon past at Copse corner.
And Stoner dived up the inside of his team-mate to take the lead on lap two.
Simoncelli then had a huge moment going into Abbey and was completely out of the seat before wrestling his Honda back onto the circuit just behind Lorenzo in fourth.
Stoner was beginning to open up an ominous lead but was still lapping over 20 seconds slower than his pole position lap from Saturday.
"At the beginning we didn't get a great start. But the bike felt good, and I waited for the tyres to get up to temperature," Stoner told BBC Sport.
"In the first lap I had water in my visor, so for the first five or six laps I couldn't really see properly. I couldn't see any puddles. But finally the water went away and I was able to do the lap times I wanted, and open up a gap."
The battle for second was close between Dovizioso, Lorenzo and Simoncelli before the world champion crashed out on lap eight.
The Spaniard had a similar accident to Crutchlow as he high-sided his Yamaha coming out of the fast Abbey corner but was lucky to walk away unscathed.
His team-mate Spies also crashed out on the same lap.
Simoncelli had moved into second place but then also fell victim to the foul weather as he crashed out after hitting heavy standing water under braking.
"I took a big risk at the same point in the first lap and, after that, I braked softer," Stoner surges to Silverstone winsaid Simoncell. "But I lost the front, and was completely straight with the aquaplane. I'm so disappointed because every time we are so close to a good result, something happens."
The retirements elevated Edwards into third place just nine days after he had 13 screws inserted into a broken collarbone.
His recovery will be music to team-mate Crutchlow's ears as the Brit hopes to return at Assen in a fortnight.
"I've been doing it all on Ibuprofen [pain relief drug] today," said Edwards.
"We didn't even know if I'd be racing. We changed the set-up completely this morning. Thanks to the team and to Bridgestone. I don't know [how we did it]. It was a good day."
Stoner was able to ease off and take the victory, more than 15 seconds ahead of Dovizioso, which puts him top of the standings with a third of the season gone.
"We had a great race," added the Australian, who became the first Honda rider to win three MotoGPs in a row since Rossi in 2003. "We are very happy. Conditions were so tough. Anything could have happened.
"I saw Jorge's crash on the big screen as I went round and I am really pleased to be in the lead now. To win three in a row is perfect and we feel the bike is working well in all conditions. I could have had an even bigger lead by now but to be back at the top is fantastic."
Dovizioso, whose second place consolidated his third position in the standings, said: "With the wet patches it was difficult to find the line. I'm so happy because the level is so high this season. In practice, we have struggled. But in the important moments we can deliver."
British fans at least had something to cheer in the earlier Moto2 race as Bradley Smith took second place despite qualifying down in 28th position.
The Oxfordshire rider was hit with a 1000 euros fine for riding the wrong way up the pitlane during a disastrous Saturday, but sliced through the pack in awful weather conditions to take a podium finish behind series leader Stefan Bradl.
The German took his fourth victory in six races despite sliding twice on the wet track, while Britain's Scott Reddding, who started second on the grid, finished fifth on his Suter.
"Yesterday I just kind of wanted to pack up and go home," said Smith. "But when I saw the rain this morning, I knew things would turn around. We have got a great bike in the wet and knew I could make my way through the crowd."
Silverstone MotoGP result:
1. C Stoner (Aus) Repsol Honda 47 mins, 53.459 secs
2. A Dovizioso (It) Repsol Honda at 15.159 secs
3. C Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha at 21.480
4. N Hayden (USA) Ducati at 26.984
5. A Bautista (Sp) Suzuki at 35.569
6. V Rossi (It) Ducati at 1'04.526
7. K Abraham (Cze) Ducati at 1'32.650
8 T Elias (Sp) LCR Honda at 1'51.938
9. H Aoyama (Jpn) Gresini Honda at 1'52.350
10. L Capirossi (It) Pramac Ducati at 2'03.312
11. H Barbera (Sp) Aspar Ducati one lap
12. R De Puniet (Fr) Pramac Ducati one lap
1 S Bradl (Ger) Kalex 44min 10.236sec
2 B Smith (GB) Tech 3 at 7.601sec
3 M Pirro (Ita) Moriwaki at 12.241
4 J Cluzel (Fra) Suter at 17.271
5 S Redding (GB) Suter at 23.531
1 J Folger (Ger) Aprilia 43min 48.862sec
2 J Zarco (Fra) Derbi at 3.885sec
3 H Faubel (Spn) Aprilia at 14.951sec