Toni Elias has a strong chance of winning the inaugural Moto2 World Championship next Sunday at Sepang after claiming a hard-earned seventh win of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Spaniard handed chassis-supplier Moriwaki an important home victory after once again getting the better of countryman Julian Simon.
A sideways Simon was forced to settle for his fourth runner-up finish in a row after sticking with Elias for the entire race - but couldn't quite get within reach of a last lap pass.
Gresini rider Elias won by just 0.315sec over the Aspar Suter of Simon.
Elias, who began the race 76 points in front of Simon, is now 81 points ahead and will be a world champion for the first time if he can leave Sepang with a lead of at least 76 points.
Completing the podium was 2011 MotoGP rider Karel Abraham, eighth at the end of lap one, who snatched third from former MotoGP rider Alex de Angelis under-braking at the end of the back straight on the final lap.
Then, having got out of shape on the exit, Abraham went bar-to-bar with de Angelis through the tunnel heading into the final S turn - and held off the Sam Marinese by 0.339sec for his first ever grand prix podium.
Starting from his fourth front-row in succession, Scott Redding was part of a four rider lead group - Elias, Simon, Yuki Takahashi and Redding - in the early stages. The Briton began dropping down the order as the halfway mark approached, but retaliated in the closing stages to finish one-second from de Angelis.
Catalunya winner Takahashi held the lead briefly into turn one and was on target for a home podium until being overtaken by de Angelis with nine laps to go. The Tech 3 rider finished as the top Japanese in sixth.
Andrea Iannone was just 15th at the end of the first lap and saw his hopes of solid points end when he ran wide on lap six. The triple 2010 race winner finished 13th on his Speed Up.
Race results - Motegi:
1. Elias (Moriwaki) 23 laps
2. Simon (Suter) +0.315s
3. Abraham (FTR) +9.839s
4. de Angelis (MotoBI) +10.178s
5. Redding (Suter) +11.237s
6. Takahashi (Tech 3) +12.778s
7. Bradl (Suter) +17.284s
8. Luthi (Moriwaki) +17.892s
9. Rolfo (Suter) +19.235s
10. Debon (FTR) +19.568s