Another year, another title for Valentino Rossi, the most successful motorcycle rider of all-time notching up a ninth grand prix crown in 2009.

Proving once again that he is always the safest bet for title predictions before the start of the season, Casey Stoner may have stolen the headlines in testing and Jorge Lorenzo snatched the initiative in the early rounds, but Rossi was the ultimately the man to beat over the course of the year.

On race pace, Lorenzo, Stoner (fitness permitting) and Dani Pedrosa occasionally had the edge on Rossi, but none of them could sustain it over the length of the season.

Indeed, Rossi's title win was deserving simply for the fact he was the most coveted rider in 2009, his six wins, seven pole position and 13 podium finishes proving better than any other rider. Indeed, consistency is one thing, speed is another, but together they are a potent cocktail for any rival to go up against.

Save for the odd blip, most notably Le Mans and Indianapolis, Rossi was the deserving champion in 2009, but the emergence of Lorenzo this year and the return of a fully fit Stoner suggests next season could be closer.

As we have seen though, Rossi is a racer and he'll be the first to welcome an increased level of competition in 2010...

Statistics:

Team: Fiat Yamaha Team Bike: Yamaha YZR-M1

Championship position: 1st Points: 306

Races: 17 Pole positions: 7 Victories: 6 Podiums: 13 Best results: 1st (Jerez, Barcelona, Assen, Sachsenring, Brno, Misano) Points finishes: 15

Top 10 MotoGP Rider of the Year 2008: 1st

Top 10 MotoGP Rider of the Year 2009:

3 - Colin Edwards 4 - Casey Stoner 5 - Dani Pedrosa 6 - Marco Melandri 7 - Andrea Dovizioso 8 - Toni Elias 9 - Loris Capirossi 10 - Nicky Hayden