For recently crowned world champion Valentino Rossi, Motegi was an uncharacteristically difficult event and despite leading for four laps and running at the front throughout, he had to fight hard for his second place and 20 points.

"This was maybe the hardest race of the year, because the setting of the bike was not perfect," confessed Rossi. "Every time I entered a corner I was fighting with it, so second position is not so bad. The battle with Alex (Barros) was good, especially as we have the same bike now."

Rossi will almost certainly face a further challenge from Barros in this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

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