Stoner wins as Rossi and Lorenzo do battle
Ducati rider Casey Stoner has won the Japanese Moto GP at Motegi.
Starting third on the grid, the Australian immediately beat pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso and reigning champion Valentino Rossi off the line.
Dovizioso finished second, with Rossi third after a thrilling battle with championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, who had to settle for fourth.
The victory is Stoner's second in as many races following his win at the Grand Prix of Aragon.
It was another strong ride from Stoner, who moves up to eighth in the all-time winners list following the 22nd victory of his career, as he made the most of his storming start by pulling away from Dovizioso.
Stoner took the 24-lap race with a time of 43 minutes, 12.266 seconds, 3.868 seconds ahead of the Italian.
Stoner has admitted the Motegi track is not one of his favourites, and he revealed he had not been expecting great things this time round.
Stoner delighted with 'hardest' win
He said: "This weekend has been tough for us. We were going in the wrong direction, found a set-up for qualifying, tried something else in the morning warm-up which didn't really work and it was pretty much a lucky dip for the race as to how well the bike was going to work.
"We managed to do some great lap times, it's got to be one of the hardest races I've ever done. Andrea [Dovizioso] was just there the whole way and I just had to keep trying to eke out more. As soon as I backed off or made a small mistake he would pounce.
"To win here was completely unexpected going into the race. We were the underdogs coming to this track but it worked out. Today was awesome."
Dovizioso claimed the first pole position of his MotoGP career on Saturday and followed it up with his fifth podium of the season - his first since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
"I'm so happy to get a podium," he said. "It was so important especially in Japan, the local track for Honda. It was also good for our target of finishing third in the championship.
"Casey's pace was so strong, I gave 100% all race but lost a little bit three quarters of the way through and I tried to recover in the last four laps.
"I pushed really hard and almost crashed. Anyway, second place is so important."
Lorenzo and Rossi enjoyed one of the best on-track duels of the season. Repeatedly pushing each other, the pair touched bikes with two laps to go as the fought side by side.
Having swapped places, Rossi managed to hold onto third for his seventh rostrum finish of 2010, and in the process ensure that Lorenzo finished outside the top three for the second successive race.
Rossi explained why he was determined to beat his team-mate: "Because I wanted the podium. Jorge overtook me at the beginning when I had better pace. At the end my tyres were finished.
"Unfortunately, this type of [softer] tyre for my riding style is a little bit too soft, so at the end I was in trouble. But we had a great battle for three laps, congratulations to him [Lorenzo], it was a great battle."
But Lorenzo questioned Rossi's tactics.
"I have to say that, at some points, I do not think he was completely fair," he said.
"We were both on the limit, but some of his moves were maybe a bit much and he touched me and pushed me wide then I don't think it was right."
Lorenzo extends his lead in the title race because second-placed Dani Pedrosa did not race following an accident in Friday's practice session which left him with a broken collar bone.
Lorenzo now has a 69-point lead over his nearest rival and can secure the title if he finishes ninth or better in next weekend's Malsysian Grand Prix, assuming Pedrosa misses the race with his injury.
Colin Edwards posted his best result of the season, taking fifth on his Tech 3 Yamaha, with Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda) sixth and Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) seventh. Ben Spies, Randy de Puniet and Hiroshi Aoyama completed the top 10.
Japan MotoGP results:
1. Casey Stoner (Australia) Ducati 43:12.266
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Honda 43:16.134
3. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha 43:17.973
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 43:18.487
5. Colin Edwards (U.S.) Yamaha 43:39.358
6. Marco Simoncelli (Italy) Honda 43:42.287
7. Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Suzuki 43:44.092
8. Ben Spies (U.S.) Yamaha 43:47.838
9. Randy de Puniet (France) Honda 43:59.830
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda 44:01.864
11. Marco Melandri (Italy) Honda 44:02.265
12. Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Ducati 44:02.969
13. Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati 44:03.688
14. Aleix Espargaro (Spain) Ducati 44:05.109
15. Mika Kallio (Finland) Ducati 44:26.934
Moto 2 race:
1. Toni Elias (Spain) Moriwaki 43:50.930
2. Julian Simon (Spain) Suter 43:51.245
3. Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) FTR 44:00.769
4. Alex de Angelis (San Marino) Motobi 44:01.108
5. Scott Redding (Britain) Suter 44:02.167
1. Marc Marquez (Spain) Derbi 39:46.937
2. Nicolas Terol (Spain) Aprilia 39:49.549
3. Bradley Smith (Britain) Aprilia 39:55.333
4. Pol Espargaro (Spain) Derbi 40:05.810
5. Alberto Moncayo (Spain) Aprilia 40:18.910