Casey Stoner kept his title hopes alive by winning a race-long duel with championship leader Jorge Lorenzo
in Sunday's US MotoGP
at Laguna Seca.
As expected Stoner, Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa
soon broke clear of the rest of the field. Stoner had lost out to Repsol Honda team-mate Pedrosa into Turn three of lap 3, then stalked Lorenzo's Yamaha throughout the middle stages.
The only one of the trio to choose the softer rear tyre, Stoner nonetheless only got stronger as the race neared its conclusion.
Running the new Honda engine, the Australian made his victory pass by accelerating around Lorenzo on the home straight at the start of lap 22 of 32.
Lorenzo - on pole at Laguna Seca for four years in succession, but a faller in morning warm-up - threatened to retaliate, but Stoner finally broke clear to claim his third and final US GP win before retirement by 3.4s.
Despite the defeat, Lorenzo has increased his championship lead to 23 points over Pedrosa, who raced with the new RCV (chassis and engine) but lost touch from the middle stages and crossed the line 7.6s from victory.
Stoner is a reduced, but still sizeable 32 points behind Lorenzo in third.
Lorenzo's Texan team-mate Ben Spies, who injured his heel in a qualifying fall, held fourth for much of the race - then fell from his M1 after a technical problem (later confirmed as a broken swingarm) on the exit of the corkscrew and was bundled into the gravel, with nine laps to go.
Spies was just starting to pull clear of Tech 3 Yamaha riders Andrea Dovizioso
and Cal Crutchlow at the time of his exit, with Dovizioso then keeping the inherited fourth from Crutchlow by less than 0.2s at the line.
Rookie Stefan Bradl had also been part of the fourth place battle but later lost out to Nicky Hayden, the Ducati rider finishing as the top American in sixth.