Marc Marquez took a big step towards regaining the lead of the 125cc championship by taking a straightforward victory at Motegi.
After falling from first to third in the standings when he was taken out on the opening lap at Aragon a fortnight ago, Marquez moved back up to second and closed to within six points of leader Nico Terol by beating the Aspar Aprilia man to the Japan win.
Terol led initially, but Marquez was glued to his tail and appeared to be biding his time. On lap eight the Ajo Derbi breezed past Terol and into the lead at Turn 5, then cruised away to win by 2.6 seconds.
A lonely fourth place was not ideal for Pol Espargaro's title challenge. The Tuenti Derbi rider was involved in a three-way battle for third with Bradley Smith (Aspar) and Sandro Cortese (Ajo) initially, before Smith pulled away and made the final podium spot his own, and Cortese lost a lot of time with a fall.
In another blow for the Tuenti team, Espargaro's team-mate Efren Vazquez was involved in a nasty first corner tangle with Jonas Folger, and has been taken to hospital for checks.
Tomoyoshi Koyama looked set to take fifth place in front of his home crowd until he went off with just a handful of laps remaining. His race-long combatants Alberto Moncayo and Esteve Rabat therefore completed the top six, with Moncayo taking his best world championship result yet in fifth place.
Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1. Marc Marquez Derbi 39m46.937s
2. Nicolas Terol Aprilia + 2.612s
3. Bradley Smith Aprilia + 8.396s
4. Pol Espargaro Derbi + 18.873s
5. Alberto Moncayo Aprilia + 31.973s
6. Esteve Rabat Aprilia + 32.139s
7. Danny Webb Aprilia + 46.716s
8. Luis Salom Aprilia + 49.444s
9. Adrian Martin Aprilia + 49.867s
10. Johann Zarco Aprilia + 55.912s
11. Randy Krummenache Aprilia + 56.684s
12. Sandro Cortese Derbi + 56.738s
13. Simone Grotzkyj Aprilia + 1m05.988s
14. Marcel Schrotter Honda + 1m10.339s
15. Jasper Iwema Aprilia + 1m10.518s
16. Hikari Ookubo Honda + 1m21.138s
17. Takehiro Yamamoto Honda + 1m21.153s
18. Louis Rossi Aprilia + 1m21.403s
19. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Aprilia + 1m25.015s
20. Syunya Mori Honda + 1m25.186s
21. Sasuke Shinozaki Yamaha + 1m26.406s
22. Tomoyoshi Koyama Aprilia + 1m40.734s
23. Luca Marconi Aprilia + 1 lap
24. Yuma Yahagi Honda + 1 lap
Danny Kent Lambretta 11 laps
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 8 laps
Jakub Kornfeil Aprilia 3 laps
Tommaso Gabrielli Aprilia 1 lap
Sturla Fagerhaug Aprilia 0 laps
Efren Vazquez Derbi 0 laps
Jonas Folger Aprilia 0 laps