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Final round title showdowns: 1949 - 2005.

Although it is possible for Nicky Hayden to clinch the 2006 MotoGP World Championship in Portugal this weekend, the most likely scenario is that the title chase will go all the way to the final race in Valencia.

Since the Motorcycle Grand Prix world championship was introduced in 1949, there have been thirteen occasions that the premier-class title has been decided at the final race of the year.

Those were:

1950 - Going to the final race of the year at his home race at Monza, Umberto Masetti riding a four-cylinder Gilera had a marginal lead in the championship over Geoff Duke riding a single-cylinder Norton. Geoff Duke won the race, but Masetti did just enough by finishing second to clinch the title by a single point.

1952 – Again Umberto Masetti arrived at the final race of the year with a narrow lead in the title chase over the 1949 champion Les Graham (MV Agusta) and Irishman Reg Armstrong (Norton). Les Graham won the race which took place over 48 laps of the Montjuich circuit in Barcelona, but once again Masetti did enough to clinch the title by finishing second.

1966 – Two of the greatest rivals of all time Mike Hailwood (Honda) and Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta) were neck and neck arriving at the final race of the year at Monza. The two rivals battled for the lead early in the race until Hailwood's Honda failed, allowing Agostini to cruise home to take the first of his eight 500cc world titles.

1967 – In a repeat of the previous year, Hailwood and Agostini went into the final race still battling for the championship as the Grand Prix competitors visited Canada for the one and only time. Hailwood won the race to give him the same points total as Agostini, each having won five races. Agostini took the title due to his three second place finishes to Hailwood's two.

1975 – Giacomo Agostini was once again involved in a final race shoot-out with a British rider, this time it was Phil Read, who had taken over as the number one rider at MV-Agusta and won the title for the previous two years. Read won the final race of the year at Brno but Agostini riding a Yamaha cruised home in second place, finishing over one minute behind Read, to clinch the title and become the first rider ever to win the premier-class crown on both two-stroke and four-stroke bikes.

1978 – Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) had just an eight point lead over Barry Sheene (Suzuki) going into the final race of the year at the old 22 km Nurburgring circuit. Roberts finished in third place, just ahead of Sheene, to become the first American rider ever to win the premier-class title.

1979 – Kenny Roberts once again arrived for the final race of the year battling with a Suzuki rider for the world title, this time young Italian Virginio Ferrari, at the Le Mans circuit. After leading in the early stages of the race Ferrari crashed out, which gifted the title to Roberts for the second year running.




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