By Neil Morrison
Jorge Lorenzo produced one of the finest rides of his career to take Yamaha's 200th victory in the premier MotoGP category at Motegi and keep his title aspirations alive at Honda's own circuit.
Despite starting from pole position, after topping a wet qualifying session on Saturday, Lorenzo was concerned at the Honda's speed in morning practice, when RCVs filled four of the top five places.
The Spaniard then made the late decision to go with Bridgestone's softer rear tyre in the race and set about taking advantage of the added grip at the start, building up a one second gap over Marquez in the first two laps.
However Marquez and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa soon closed in, shadowing Lorenzo throughout the first half of the race it seemed it was only a matter of time until Lorenzo was shifted back to third.
With Marquez on his tail the Yamaha rider set the fastest time of the race on lap 16 and proceeded to consistently gap his Championship rival until the end, crossing the line 3.5secs clear at the close of 24 laps.
After the race a jubilant Lorenzo remarked: “Looking at free practice the first three riders were Hondas. That means this track is normally better for them, so winning here at Honda's circuit - as well as the 200 victories for Yamaha, and winning after taking so many risks with the tyre - is a pleasure. It has been a really hard race physically but I kept my concentration and I really wanted this victory.”
Speaking of his late switch to the extra soft rear tyre he stated: “We made the decision late on, because just before the race the temperature was 10 degrees warmer than in morning practice and I felt better on the softer tyres. I think it was the right choice for me on the Yamaha but maybe for the Hondas they were better on a different tyre.”
The result means Lorenzo now sits 13 points behind Marquez with just one race remaining. It's only the second time the championship has gone to the final round with the winner yet to be decided in 21 years.
The 26-year old goes to Valencia knowing anything can happen.
“When you look at the Moto3 and Moto2 races today you never know what can happen. Until we finish racing we know the championship is not over,” he said. “I'm not the leading rider so it's not all up to me, so let's see how our strategy is at Valencia. I am the rider with the most victories in 2013 and that's very important.”
Lorenzo now stands alongside Max Biaggi on 111 grand prix podiums. Only six riders have scored more in the history of the Championship.