MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi admitted he was 'very worried' for his title prospects until the pendulum swung back in his favour in the Japanese MotoGP.

Rossi had been lying in second place behind main rival and Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo for much of the wet race at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit until Dani Pedrosa mounted a late charge on the Repsol Honda.

Pedrosa, who beat Rossi into the runner-up spot at Aragon where Lorenzo won to claw back nine points in the championship race, proved a thorn in the Italian's side once more as he stole second place away from the 36-year-old yet again.

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Crucially, though, on this occasion the rejuvenated Honda rider also had the measure of Lorenzo while Rossi battled back to shunt the Majorcan back to third, increasing his title lead by a four points to 18. Three rounds and 75 points remain undecided.

When Pedrosa made his move on Rossi for second place the nine-times world champion's lead as positions stood was down to five points, but to Rossi's relief there was a further twist in the tale of the race and the 'Doctor' firmly holds the initiative ahead of next week's second of three successive fly-away rounds at Phillip Island in Australia.

"It was very difficult I think, especially at the end because mentally it was a big stress to control the bike because the tyre gave up a lot and every time it became more difficult," Rossi said.

"The start was good, in the first lap Jorge [Lorenzo] was stronger than me and was able to keep the gap - also because I don't feel at one hundred per-cent. I tried not to lose too much and I tried to follow him. After some laps the distance remained the same and it was a big motivation to try to stay with him because we are faster than all the other riders.

"In one moment the race changed a lot of times because the conditions dried up and I know that the race is very long. It is a lot better with full wets [on fully wet track] than the dry line because the wet tyres become too soft," he added.

"When Dani [Pedrosa] arrived I was very worried because he can beat me but I don't know if he is able to go to Jorge, so losing another nine points like in Aragon is difficult for the championship; I tried to go with Dani because he had a good pace.

"I was able to do three or four laps quite strong and I arrived close to Jorge and in that moment we have some problems with the tyres and we are very much at the limit; maybe I had a little bit less [degradation] and I was able to keep the pace, so to take these 20 points is so important for the championship and four points more advantage is a good target."

Rossi has too much experience to look beyond the next race in Australia and remains wary of the role that can be played in the title outcome primarily by Honda riders Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.

"You have two Hondas, two Ducatis - maybe the Ducatis less - but the Hondas are always strong, Marc [Marquez] always but now Dani is in a great shape and in the last races he is very competitive," he said.

"It's very difficult to think of three races - you have to think race by race; I love Phillip Island like a lot of riders, but it's always difficult to find the setting and also the conditions can be tricky: wind, cold, but it's a great track and we will try to give the maximum."