Jorge Lorenzo won the Japanese MotoGP to ensure the championship will go to the final race in Valencia next month.
Championship leader Marc Marquez, who could have won the title today by bettering Lorenzo’s result by eight points or more, finished second in Motegi.
Marquez had to contend with Valentino Rossi in the first part of the race, but the Italian struggled to keep the pace and once he was out of the picture the leading Lorenzo was in the 20-year-old’s sights.
The Honda rider pushed and pushed but after Lorenzo did some pushing of his own, Marquez felt it best to play safe and secure second place.
"I tried to follow Jorge. In the middle of the race it looked like we were stronger but in the end I saw that Jorge tried to push a little bit more," Marquez told BBC Sport.
"I felt I was too much on the limit and I said 'okay, 20 points for the championship'. Valencia will be another race and very interesting for sure."
Lorenzo’s win takes the championship to a decider at Valencia on November 10, but with Marquez 18-points ahead the Yamaha rider will need a huge slice of luck to defend his crown.
"This track is normally better for them so winning here in Honda's home race is a pleasure," said the 26-year-old.
"It's been a really hard, physical race but I really kept my concentration and I really wanted this victory."
Marquez’ Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished third, which now mathematically takes him out of the title battle.
Pedrosa was followed home by Alvaro Bautista’s Honda Gresini while Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Marc Marquez will become the first rookie to win the premier class since Kenny Roberts in 1978 if he finishes fourth or better in Valencia, regardless of Lorenzo’s efforts.
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 42'34.291
2. Marc Marquez (Spa) Repsol Honda 42'37.479
3. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Repsol, Honda 42'38.883
4. Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Gresini Honda 42'54.046
5. Stefan Bradl (Ger) LCR Honda 42'57.101
6. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 42'58.928