Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty was unable to repeat his heroics from Aragon as the Aspar Honda rider finished outside the points in the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi.
The 29-year-old, racing at the Twin Ring Circuit for the first time since he competed in the 250cc Grand Prix World Championship as a privateer eight years ago, had qualified in 19th position on the RCV213-RS ahead of team-mate Nicky Hayden.
However, Laverty – who claimed his first win in the Open class in his maiden season at Aragon in Spain last month – struggled in the wet conditions after rear tyre fade saw him slip backwards, eventually finishing 17th.
“It was a difficult race. At the start we were really strong in comparison to the wet race at Silverstone, where I didn’t have a good feeling in the early laps,” Laverty explained.
“I could stay with the guys but then when the spinning began and the tyre started to move around we got slower and slower and by the end the tyre was almost like a slick.
“We are still improving and we know the direction but we need to improve much, much more in the wet if we want to finish in the points. Maybe that’s the last wet race of the year, we don’t know,” he added.
“The positive thing from the weekend is the lap we set in the dry yesterday. I am in one piece and we move on to Phillip island now.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won the race against the odds after Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had dominated in practice.
Rossi finished as the runner-up from Lorenzo to stretch his lead in the standings to 18 points with three races to go.
Marc Marquez, riding with a hand injury, claimed fourth on the second Repsol Honda ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) passed fellow Briton Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) on the final lap to finish sixth.