Casey Stoner was left to rue the cost of an early off-track excursion after admitting he had the bike to win at Motegi.
Having taken a brilliant pole, Stoner had already built a gap of more than a second in the first three laps when he hit bumps on the back straight of the Japanese circuit, unsettling him and his bike just as he arrived at the Turn 11 braking point.
Stoner was able to stand the bike up, run through the gravel and return in seventh, from where he set about fighting back to eventually finish third. Despite limiting the damage done by Jorge Lorenzo to his championship lead, he said he was disappointed not to have achieved more.
"It's really disappointing as we had the bike to win here today, but in the end I guess I should be thankful that we were able to climb back up to a podium spot after other people's misfortunes and mistakes on track," Stoner said. "The whole weekend had gone so well for us and even the start of the race we got a great start and everything felt good in the first laps and I was able to pull a small advantage.
"As I came out of the back straight I got a wobble on the bike, we hit the big bump and as the front came down it practically shook the bars out of my hands, I was lucky to hold on.
"I went for the brakes and there was nothing there so I had to pump them up a couple of times, when I pumped it the second time if flicked me up over the front and I was lucky to stay on the bike. I sat the rear up but there was no way for me to stop – I was happy to pull it up as much as I did.
"Thankfully, I avoided hitting the wall at the end of the gravel trap but this pretty much ended our race. I suppose we can be happy with third but we could have achieved much higher – I would have liked to be up there fighting.
"I'm looking forward to going to Phillip Island now and to see what we can achieve there, I've got a championship lead to protect but I also want to win races which is why I'm disappointed here today".