Tokyo: Casey Stoner`s charge to a second MotoGP title was held up as he survived a scare to finish third in a crash-filled Japanese Grand Prix behind Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and world champion Jorge Lorenzo on Sunday.
Honda`s Pedrosa rode a superb race, untroubled by the chaos around him, with seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi crashing off on turn two in the first of several hair-raising spills in overcast conditions at Motegi`s Twin Ring circuit.
There were also three drive-through penalties dished out and the rare sight of a Suzuki battling for a podium finish, while Lorenzo was left to rue a chance to close the gap on Stoner by more than four points.
"I had one of my worst starts of the year and then Valentino almost took me off at the second corner," Lorenzo told reporters.
"I still thought I could win the race and I pushed to the max but Dani was really inspired today. When you look at all the positions though, second place is good."
Australian Stoner, who started on pole for a record 10th time in the MotoGP four-stroke era, powered away from the grid and looked untouchable until a front-wheel wobble and brake failure while hurtling into a corner at 180kph caused him to run into the gravel on lap four.
The 2007 world champion re-emerged in seventh place and tore his way back through the field to earn a podium finish, leaving him 40 points clear of Yamaha`s Lorenzo with three races remaining this season.
The next race will be Stoner`s home grand prix at Phillip Island on Oct. 16.
"We were confident, the bike felt good," said Stoner, who had won four of the previous five races.
"Then I hit a bump and it shook my hands off the handle. When I pinched the brakes there was nothing there. I`m a little bit disappointed by I`m happy how I pulled it back."
Pedrosa clocked a time of 42 minutes, 47.481 seconds over the 24 laps, taking the chequered flag more than seven seconds ahead of Lorenzo with Stoner well back.
"It was a bit weird in the beginning," said Pedrosa. "Casey made a mistake so I had a free way. Jorge was pushing hard but I`m happy to get my first win here in MotoGP -- and for Honda."
Suzuki, without a podium since 2008, were third until a fired-up Stoner passed Alvaro Bautista at the halfway point, the Spaniard skidding across the tarmac and out of the race in spectacular fashion soon afterwards.
The race was originally scheduled for April but was moved after the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami which triggered a nuclear meltdown at a power plant north of Tokyo.
Italy`s Andrea Iannone roared to his third win of the season, clocking 43:25.007 over 23 laps in the Moto2 race to hold off fellow Suter rider Marc Marquez and deny the Spaniard a record-equaling fourth successive victory.
However, Marcquez took over the top of the standings by a single point from German Stefan Bradl, who finished fourth on his Kalex after a pulsating battle for the podium places. Swiss Thomas Luthi finished third.
Frenchman Johann Zarco, who has finished runner-up six-times this season, finally claimed his first grand prix victory for Derbi in the 125cc class in 39:49.968 over the 20-lap race.
Aprilia`s Nico Terol backed off at the end of the race to settle for second, leaving the Spaniard with a 31-point lead over Zarco in the championship standings with three rounds to go.