Dani Pedrosa kept the pressure on MotoGP
title leader Jorge Lorenzo
by beating the Yamaha rider for victory in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
Pedrosa's fifth win of the season also marks a new personal record for the Repsol Honda rider.
Dark overcast conditions meant that all 22 riders chose the softer rear tyre alongside the harder front, with Lorenzo bravely sweeping around the outside of Pedrosa to defend his pole position into turn one.
Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies held an early third before running straight on and falling after hitting a barrier, thankfully at a much lower speed than Nicky Hayden
at Aragon, at the start of the second lap.
That blew a hole between the leading Spaniards and the rest of the field, which grew even larger as the race went on. Pedrosa shadowed the Yamaha rider until peeling out of his slipstream and taking the lead under braking into the turn five right-hander, on lap 12 of 24.
Pedrosa then pulled away from Lorenzo to win by 4.275s, cutting Lorenzo's lead to 28 points with three rounds and 75 points to go. Pedrosa has now won four of the past five races, having been taken out at Misano.
Joining Lorenzo and Pedrosa on the rostrum was Alvaro Bautista, who celebrated his new Gresini Honda contract with a second ever MotoGP
Tech 3 Yamaha's front row starter Cal Crutchlow had reclaimed third after Spies' early exit, but was hunted down by Bautista, who lunged inside the Englishman with five laps to go.
The all-satellite battle continued when Crutchlow briefly re-passed Bautista with three laps left and he was still in podium touch as the final lap began... only to run out of fuel, forcing him to park his M1 and punch the tank in frustration.
That moved team-mate Andrea Dovizioso
to fourth and Casey Stoner
to fifth on his MotoGP
comeback. Stoner, absent for the past three rounds following ankle surgery, held fourth in the early stages before being overtaken by Bautista and then Dovizioso.