Youichi Ui won his home GP at Motegi in dominating fashion this afternoon in Japan as the Derbi rider produced a near start to finish victory, while World Championship leader Toni Elias crashed out of contention after an early race error - leaving his young teammate Daniel Pedrosa to fight for second place with his title rival Manual Poggiali.
Pole sitter Ui had made a promising start, but lost the lead to Elias into turn one with Poggiali slotting into third ahead of Azuma as the four front row starters continued to hold the top four places.
Having followed the Spaniard for two laps, Ui made his move for the lead and gracefully passed the blue Honda as the top two started to build a gap back to Poggiali, while fourth placed Azuma was under pressure from Daniel Pedrosa – who slipped inside the home hero later on in lap 3.
By the time lap four of twenty-one had been completed the top two had become three as Poggiali put his Gilera firmly on the tail of Elias' #24, but just one lap later everything would change.
First Nobby Ueda fell nastily over the front of his TSR Honda at the exit of turn one, his bike then tangling with others, namely Max Sabbatani, who crashed heavily from his Aprilia.
Almost as soon as that spectacular chain of events had been completed, World Championship leader Elias high-sided nastily from his Honda while midway around the right hand turn that precedes the Oval circuit underpass.
The 18 year old hit the ground heavily and slid into the gravel where Marshall's rushed to his aid. Fortunately, it appeared that Elias' injuries were as much due to mental disappointment than physical harm, as he handed title rival Poggiali second place in the race – just one place ahead of his teammate Pedrosa, while Ui continued to hold station up front.
By lap eight Ui held a 2secs lead over Poggiali, who now had to deal with increasing pressure from Pedrosa, while a 4secs gap lay between the 16 year old and fourth placed rider Lucio Cecchinello.
Over the next few laps it was clear that Pedrosa was revelling in his new found confidence after Valencia, and with the Telefonica teams hopes now firmly on his young shoulders, the Spaniard doggedly hung onto the rear of Poggiali's Gilera eager to deny his teammates main rival of vital championship points as the last laps approached.