- Spain's Dani Pedroas wins Japan MotoGP at Moegi in incident-paced race
- Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo finishes second to keep alive title chances
- Title leader Casey Stoner takes third despite coming off on the fifth lap at Motegi
- Sebastian Ogier wins Rally of France to boost title hopes
Honda's Dani Pedrosa claimed a superb victory in the Japanese MotoGP Sunday ahead of reigning world champion and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
Pedrosa's teammate and title leader Casey Stoner could only manage third at Motegi after ending up in the gravel on the fifth lap.
It enabled Lorenzo to cut his lead in the championship standings to 40 points with three rounds remaining - in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia in Spain.
Stoner's off was one of a number of incidents, the Australian losing control of his bike -- apparently with a brake problem -- as he led from pole.
The third Repsol Honda rider, Italian Andrea Dovizioso, then led the race briefly before he had to perform a ride-through penalty for jumping the start.
Italian legend Valentino Rossi on his Ducati crashed out on the first lap, impeding Yamaha rider Ben Spies, who was able to carry on, and almost taking down Lorenzo.
Pedrosa went on to seal his third win of the season, finishing seven seconds ahead of Lorenzo and nearly 18 seconds clear of Stoner.
"I'm super happy with this victory, " he told the official MotoGP website.
Stoner was relieved to have claimed a podium place to limit his losses and is eyeing his home race in Australia.
"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," he said.
Meanwhile in other motorsport news Sunday, Sebastien Ogier, driving a Citroen DS3, stepped up his bid for a first world rally title by winning his home round in France.
Overnight leader Ogier finished six seconds ahead of Spaniard Dani Sordo. Norway's Petter Solberg originally finished third but was disqualified when his privateer Citroen was found to be four kilograms too light.
That promoted Mikko Hirvonen to third and he leads the championship with Sebastien Loeb, but Ogier has closed the gap to just three points with two races left this season in Spain and Britain