Johann Zarco, who has finished runner-up six-times this season, finally claimed his first ever grand prix victory at Motegi in Japan on Sunday.

Pole sitter Zarco briefly dropped to third behind the Aspar Aprilias of Nico Terol and Hector Faubel early in the race, before Zarco and championship leader Terol broke away.

Zarco then took the lead on lap 14 of 20, with Terol handing the Ajo Derbi rider a 1.3sec advantage when he made a small mistake under braking with four laps remaining.

Terol, who has won eight races this year, then backed off - later saying his tyre was finished - leaving Zarco to end his victory 'curse' in style with a 5.9sec advantage.

Zarco's 2011 near misses include throwing away victory at Misano when he turned to look at Terol out of the final turn - rather than racing for the line - and being denied by a post-race penalty at Catalunya, a tie-break at Sachsenring and a last turn showdown at Brno!

Showing he had learnt his lesson from Misano, 21-year-old Zarco kept his head down behind the fairing and didn't look back until crossing the line in Japan, despite the huge lead! Faubel took third place, albeit over 13sec from victory.

Race-winning rookie Maverick Vinales was forced to surrender his fourth-place start after pre-race chain troubles left him last on the grid.

The Paris Hilton Aprilia star channelled his frustration into an impressive charge that saw him 23rd by the end of lap one, into the top ten on lap 4 and fourth by lap 14.

The Spaniard then faced a near nine-second gap to Hector Faubel, but still didn't give up and was 2.586sec from a place on the podium at the chequered flag.

Terol now leads the championship by a reduced 31 points from Zarco with three rounds to go.

Race results:

1. Zarco (Derbi) 20 laps
2. Terol (Aprilia) +5.900s
3. Faubel (Aprilia) +13.605s
4. Vinales (Aprilia) +16.191s
5. Cortese (Aprilia) +23.422s
6. Folger (Aprilia) +23.661s
7. Moncayo (Aprilia) +24.034s
8. Martin (Aprilia) +24.171s
9. Kent (Aprilia) +49.118s
10. Tonucci (Aprilia) +51.393s

14. Stafford (Aprilia) +1m 5.606s
Webb (Mahindra) DNF
Mackenzie (Aprilia) DNF


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