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Rossi back on the podium as Fiat Yamaha fight it out at Motegi

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo put on a brilliant show for the Japanese fans at Motegi today, fighting it out for the final podium position in a battle that went down to the wire. Rossi just prevailed over his team-mate to take third, his sixth podium of the season, while Lorenzo's fourth place sets up his first Championship match-point at Sepang next weekend.

The excitement between the pair started at turn one, when Lorenzo pulled an audacious move on Rossi, passing him around the outside and exiting the second corner in third place, with the Italian in fourth. As the eventual-winner and runner-up Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso moved clear in front, Rossi was determined not to let his team-mate escape and stuck close behind, looking for every occasion to pass him. He tried a few times before he was able to make it stick and the reigning World Champion eventually passed the current championship-leader on the sixth lap of 24, going on to set the fastest lap of the race on the next lap.

Rossi and Lorenzo then settled into a rhythm with a gap of a few tenths between them, although they were unable to make much headway on the leaders, who were nearly two seconds ahead of them by that point. As the race sped towards its climax Rossi's tyres began to slide a little and Lorenzo took the fight to him, making his first move on lap 18 but unable to stay in front. On the penultimate lap an incredible passing sequence led to the pair touching fairings on more than one occasion and the excitement did not end there, as they swapped positions several more times before Rossi just gained the advantage in the final few corners and crossed the line half a second in front.

Lorenzo is now 69 points ahead of the injured Dani Pedrosa and needs to be at least 75 ahead of his fellow Spaniard after the Sepang race to seal the win there. Rossi has slipped back to fifth in the championship but he is only three points off Dovizioso and has fourth firmly in his sights. The MotoGP paddock now packs up and moves straight to Malaysia for the next round in one week's time at Sepang.

“This win feels great. I could have never imagined when I began my first season in Grand Prix at sixteen years of age that I would reach this level and all I can say is that it is an honour to be alongside such great names. I have taken all my MotoGP wins with Ducati and it is down to their fantastic support, hard work and above all their belief in me that this has been possible. Once again we put in maximum effort all weekend here to find some stability in the hard braking and acceleration zones at this circuit, which has been a massive challenge for us. We tried something in warm-up this morning that didn't quite work so we took a bit of a lucky dip for the race and it paid off. Once I got out in front I knew we had a chance to win but it wasn't without fighting for it because Andrea (Dovizioso) rode a great race to push me all the way to the last lap. It's a big win for me, especially because it's my first at this circuit and that means a lot” - Casey Stoner.

“I pushed at 100 percent for the whole race and the lap times of Casey and me were pretty impressive and very consistent. At the beginning, Casey was really fast when the tyres weren’t fully up to temperature and at that moment I knew it was going to be a hard fight with him. I don’t know what Casey did to up his pace today but his speed was amazing. There were two or three places on that lap where he was faster than me every time, but I saw that he was also on the limit and so I kept pushing. It was hard to maintain the pace on the tyre in the last few laps and I nearly had a big highside three laps from the end - at that moment I knew I couldn’t win the race. It was a little bit disappointing because I wanted the win and I thought it was possible today, but I’m really happy to be back on the podium again. Following Casey I learned a lot about the strategy for tuning the electronics settings for the final part of the race when the tyre performance is dropping off, so this is really positive for the future. I want to say thank you to the team because I’m in this position thanks to their hard work. And also thanks to HRC - I’m really glad to have a good result at Honda’s home race” - Andrea Dovizioso.

"What a great race! Of course I would have preferred to be battling for the win but anyway it was a great feeling, a real show and I want to congratulate Jorge because he was very strong and didn't give up! Unfortunately I lost time at the start when he passed me so Stoner and Dovizioso got away, and by the time I passed him again they were too far ahead. At the end I was tired and my tyre was sliding a lot, it was a bit softer than I would have liked, so I knew I was going to be in trouble but I wanted the podium so much. Jorge came back at me and we had a great battle, proper racing - I think everyone watching enjoyed it. It's been a great weekend because we expected it to be difficult but in fact we've been strong in every session and worked very well on our bike. The shoulder is okay at the moment so let's go to Malaysia and see if we can continue like this, or better!" - Valentino Rossi.

"This was a big battle between Valentino and I, two warriors with the killer instinct. I have to say that at some points I do not think he was completely fair, we were both on the limit but some of his moves were maybe a bit too much and he touched me and pushed me wide when I don't think it was right. We are team-mates, I am fighting for the Riders' Championship but we are both fighting for the Teams' and Manufacturers' Championship as well and we have to remember this. I am disappointed to miss the podium of course because I wanted one at Yamaha's home, but this is racing. We chose to ride with the old engine to be safe and then I wasn't getting the best feeling from the front tyre, so things weren't perfect for me, but anyway we took some good points. We are very close to getting our dream and I really hope we can do it next weekend in Sepang" - Jorge Lorenzo.

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