Max Biaggi's growing momentum continued in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, when the Roman upheld Honda and Michelin honour by claiming a closely fought second place behind Ducati-Bridgestone rider Loris Capirossi.

Capirossi and Biaggi tailed Marco Melandri for the first 10 laps of the 24 lap race, when both overtook the fading Movistar rider - who would be taken out by Valentino Rossi three laps later.

Meanwhile, Biaggi took the race lead from laps 12 to 18, at which point Loris - having studied his rival's strengths - pounced. Biaggi did all he could to stick with the Ducati star, but crossed the line 1.4secs behind what would have been his first win in over a season.

Nevertheless, Capirossi's form in practice and qualifying at Bridgestone's home track meant that he was always going to be tough to beat - and few predicted that Biaggi, who had qualified on the second row, could mount such a determined attack.

"That race was so hard and I am very happy with the result in the end," said Max. "It was very tough to follow Capirossi with his Bridgestones, I tried my best and second was the best I could do in this race. At the end of the day it was a lot of points and we were close to the winner.

"It is good to be the best Michelin finisher and the first Honda back as well. I would not want to point the finger at Michelin because the worst case was second and I'm confident in Malaysia that we can take revenge on Bridgestone!

"They did a great job and Loris rode very hard - congratulations to them. A good battle to watch for the fans I think," he added.

Biaggi came into the event holding a three-point lead over Marco Melandri in the fight for second in the championship, but left with an advantage of 16-points over new third placed man Colin Edwards.

"An interesting race and I'm happy for Max and his team," said team manager Makoto Tanaka. "Today he showed what he can do from a good second row start - I would be interested to see what he could do from regular front row starts! He his riding very strongly at the moment and it is good to see his place in the championship consolidated."

Practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix takes place on Friday.



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