Dani Pedrosa further closed the gap on Spanish compatriot Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the MotoGP standings after claiming victory in Japan on Sunday.
The in-form Pedrosa, who saw pole snatched away from him by Lorenzo late in Saturday's qualifying session, claimed his fourth victory in his last five races after finishing just ahead of Lorenzo and another Spaniard Alvaro Bautista on the Motegi circuit.
Pedrosa's triumph, his fifth of the season, means the Repsol Honda rider is now 28 points behind pace-setter Lorenzo, who continued his hugely impressive campaign which has seen him finish in the top two of every race except for Assen when he failed to finish.
Pedrosa said on www.motogp.com: "It was a hard race because the pace was very fast from the beginning. I tried to understand the bike, as yesterday we had a lot of chatter so I didn't know how it would be today. In the beginning it wasn't too bad but then it got a little worse during the race."
The 27-year-old rued the fact that no other rider could keep up with him and Lorenzo and possibly deny his title rival some valuable points.
"We did what we needed to do and it's just a pity that there is no one else who can stay with us because every race I win, he's been second," he said. "But anyway, it's a great feeling to win races and we are doing it now."
Australian Casey Stoner was fifth in his first race back since ankle surgery, finishing behind Andrea Dovizioso.
Reigning MotoGP champion Stoner is third in the overall standings, 85 points behind Pedrosa, with Italian Dovizioso a further five points back in fourth heading into the final three races of the season.
Meanwhile, there was a British victory in the Moto3 in Motegi as 18-year-old Danny Kent claimed his maiden victory.