Dani Pedrosa was the last man standing in Japan, taking his third win of the season in a thrilling race which saw incidents and accidents throughout. The Spaniard was the only works Honda rider with the luxury of a trouble-free race and he took full advantage to beat Jorge Lorenzo's Yamaha by seven seconds.
The mayhem ensued from the moment the race started but three riders were too keen to get going. Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli and Cal Crutchlow all crept forward before the red light went out would soon receive ride-through penalties for their troubles.
Casey Stoner led away from pole position ahead of the impatient Dovizioso with Pedrosa getting ahead of Lorenzo to take third at turn one. On the run down to turn three, Lorenzo was also coming under pressure from Valentino Rossi but was clearly unaware of the close proximity of the Ducati, squeezing Rossi into his teammate Ben Spies. Rossi was out on the spot as the GP11.1 tumbled through the gravel trap but Spies was at least able to re-join, albeit at the back of the field.
Hector Barbera joined Rossi on the list of retirements on lap two which led to the sad sight of the Spaniard being stretchered away. Early reports suggest he has sustained a concussion and a broken collarbone.
Incredibly, the next man to come unstuck was Stoner with the Australian losing control over a bump as he prepared to brake for turn 11. The championship leader was forced to tiptoe through the gravel, falling to seventh. Incredibly, Dovizioso now found himself in the lead but news of his ride-through penalty had already been revealed and the no.4 Honda surrendered the lead within a lap of inheriting it.
Pedrosa and Lorenzo couldn't believe their luck as they ran first and second while Rizla Suzuki were on the verge of dreamland, with Alvaro Bautista holding third ahead of Nicky Hayden and the recovering Stoner who was promoted back up to fifth by the various penalties.
Stoner's RC212V was undamaged by the off-track excursion and he quickly reeled in the battle for third. On lap 11, Hayden was forced to give way, literally as Stoner barged his way through into turn ten while Bautista's resistance only lasted one more lap before the Honda breezed past into third.
Fourth would still have been a tremendous result for Bautista and Suzuki but the Spaniard crashed out himself on lap 14, losing the front end of the GSV-R through turn 12. This should have promoted Hayden to fourth but he had slid off track himself moments earlier, so Dovizioso took the place instead, but he was coming under increasing pressure from the charging Simoncelli.
The Gresini rider showed plenty of aggressive intent but had to wait until the penultimate lap before securing fourth, outbraking Dovizioso at the end of the back straight. The top three places had long since been decided with Pedrosa leading home Lorenzo with Stoner salvaging third, five seconds ahead of the duelling Italians.
Another Honda should've been in sixth but LCR's Toni Elias threw away what would've been his best result for two years, crashing out on lap 18. As a result, Ben Spies emerged in sixth despite his terrible start to the race while fellow countrymen Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards ended seventh and eighth respectively.
Home favourite Hiroshi Aoyama finished ninth ahead of Randy de Puniet while Cal Crutchlow still managed to beat the wildcard Hondas of Kousuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Ito to 11th despite his penalty and two other off-track moments.