MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo won the San Marino Grand Prix for Yamaha on Sunday but Honda's Marc Marquez extended his overall lead to 34 points after finishing second.
Lorenzo's second win in a row left the Spaniard level on points - but ahead on race wins - with Honda-riding compatriot Dani Pedrosa on 219. Marquez, the 20-year-old Spanish rookie who has taken the season by storm, has 253.
Pedrosa finished third at the Misano Marco Simoncelli circuit in eastern Italy with local hero Valentino Rossi ending up fourth for Yamaha for the fourth race in a row.
Lorenzo passed pole-sitter Marquez at the start and streaked away to a comfortable 28th win in the premier class.
“I started really convinced, really motivated, and tried to push from the first corner to the last,” he said afterwards. “It is important to win because we don't lose points but we have only recovered five...it doesn't make a big difference to the championship.”
Marquez does not need to win again.
With five races remaining, Marquez does not need to win again and can clinch the title by finishing second in all the remaining Grands prix.
Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis said: “Marc is very consistent. We've got five races to go and 34 deficit so if we keep going, we have a chance.”
Marquez, who crashed in the morning warm-up, had to fight back from fourth after losing ground to Pedrosa and Rossi and his duel with team mate Pedrosa for second provided most of the afternoon's thrills.
Pedrosa passed Marquez again with six laps to go but the move was short-lived, with the championship leader taking back the position within seconds.
“That second place is so important.”
Marquez admitted: “In the beginning I was struggling a lot - I went wide twice. But anyway we did a good race and took 20 more points for the championship.”
Germany's Stefan Bradl, on a privateer Honda, took fifth on the last lap from Britain's Cal Crutchlow on the Tech3 Yamaha.
But Crutchlow said: “At the end of the day I'm pleased. We came here and were 13th and 14th, 10th in practice, useless all weekend, I was borderline crashing a lot and had no confidence during the race.”
In the Moto2 class, Spain's Pol Espargaro won to deny Japan's Takaaki Nakagami the first victory of his career after passing him on the penultimate lap. Britain's Scott Redding finished sixth and saw his overall lead slashed to 23 points.
The next race will be at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain on 29 September - Reuters
RESULTS - MOTOGP
1 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha - 44min05.522
2 Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda +3.379sec
3 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda +7.368
4 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha +15.062
5 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda +22.355
6 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha +22.599
7 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda +31.059
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati +42.702
9 Nicky Hayden (United States) Ducati +44.858
10 Michele Pirro (Italy) Ducati +47.818
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda - 253 points
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha - 219
3 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda - 219
4 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha - 169
5 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha - 146
6 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda - 124
7 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda - 112
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati - 104
9 Nicky Hayden (United States) Ducati - 95
10 Bradley Smith (Britain) Yamaha - 71
1 Pol Espargaro (Spain) 42min47.098
2 Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) +0.621sec
3 Esteve Rabat (Spain) +1.815
4 Thomas Luthi (Switzerland) +12.919
5 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) +14.925
6 Scott Redding (Britain) +15.123
7 Johann Zarco (France) +15.259
8 Xavier Simeon (Belgium) +20.369
9 Mika Kallio (Finland) +20.615
10 Nicolas Terol (Spain) +24.635
1 Alex Rins (Spain) KTM - 39min50.516
2 Maverick Vinales (Spain) KTM +0.050sec
3 Alex Marquez (Spain) KTM +6.434
4 Luis Salom (Spain) KTM +17.297
5 Jack Miller (Australia) FTR Honda +18.011
6 Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Malaysia) KTM +18.133
7 Miguel Oliveira (Portugal) Mahindra +18.456
8 Niccolo Antonelli (Italy) FTR Honda +18.604
9 Philipp Oettl (Germany) Kalex KTM +24.892
10 Romano Fenati (Italy) FTR Honda +25.113