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 Krummenacher 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 Retirements: 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