Andrea Dovizioso said his refusal to give up was the key to his crucial victory over MotoGP title rival Marc Marquez in the wet at Motegi in Japan.

Dovizioso reduced Marquez’s championship lead to 11 points with three races to go as he came out on top of a nerve-tingling battle with the Honda rider on the final lap to claim his fifth victory of the season.

“At the beginning of the race I didn’t feel so good but I didn’t give up and that was the key of my race. Lap by lap we become faster and faster and I saw my positive and negative points and at the end we did a nice battle,” said Dovizioso.

“It is always difficult to fight with Marc and we were pushing really hard. In the last six laps our tyre was gone, we were spinning in sixth gear and it was very difficult to be precise. It was difficult to brake hard and we had to change lines, so it was very difficult.

“I saw him struggling and he was struggling a lot. He was trying to push again on the last two laps but he was maybe over the limit and he did a mistake,” he added.

“I was able to catch him again and I knew at turn 11 that it was my break, so I was able to exit behind him at turn 10 and I braked so hard – my bike in the braking was better than his bike. But there remained two corners and I knew that anything can happen because I was so slow in those corners and Marc was behind me.

“I had to try and make a wide left corner and it was the right decision because I closed the door and for him, it was very difficult to try to overtake me and when he did, he couldn’t change direction very fast.”

Despite the treacherous conditions, both riders gave their all as they went head-to-head around the Twin Ring circuit and Dovizioso admitted that he threw caution to the wind in his bid to close the points deficit.

“Today we didn’t think about the championship because our speed was amazing, the battle was on the limit, so this is the nice things of this sport and our mentality today. I’m really happy in the way we approached the race: we managed the race and we were very concentrated and focused,” he said.

“It was so exciting to win this race and it was so important for the championship. We know it is very difficult to beat him in the championship but like I said on Thursday, we will try until the end.”

Heavy surface water proved particularly problematic on the opening laps for Dovizioso as he began to scythe his way through the pack after starting from ninth place on row three.

“At the beginning I didn’t see anything and there was a lot of water. I had to overtake a lot of riders at the beginning and it was almost impossible to see the braking point,” said the 31-year-old.

“I did the first two laps in a good way but the rear tyre was not ready in the first two laps and it was quite difficult to be aggressive. But the front tyre worked very well and I was able to brake very hard. During the practice we worked very well and we were ready for these conditions.”

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