Stefan Bradl was crowned 2011 Moto2 World Champion at Valencia on Saturday, following the withdrawal from the race of his only remaining title rival, Marc Marquez, who was injured at the Malaysian GP two weeks ago.

Marquez finally decided hat he was not fit to compete in the season-ending race because he has been suffering from double vision since his accident at Sepang. He was already trailing Bradl by 23 points.

Twenty-one-year-old Bradl is Germany's first grand prix motorcycling World Champion since Dirk Raudies won the 125 World Championship in 1993. Germany's last intermediate-class World Champion was Toni Mang, who won the 1987 250 World Championship aboard a Honda NSR250.

The youngster goes one better than his father Helmut, who took the runner-up spot in the 1990 250 World Championship, riding a Honda NSR250.

Bradl's way of securing the title has been highly unusual, with low-key celebrations commencing after Marquez made his announcement preceding Saturday morning's third free practice session.

"It's a bit strange," said the Viessmann Kiefer Racing (Kalex) rider. "Usually you win a championship when you cross the finish line at the end of a race, so this is a bit different. But this way is also okay! Germany needs a motorcycling World Champion - it's been 18 years since a German won a title, so I'm happy to be that guy.

"During qualifying today I tried to concentrate on myself. I wanted pole and I want to win the race tomorrow - now I feel so free on the bike, I'm just enjoying my racing. I'll try to win tomorrow and then we'll celebrate the best we can.

"Everyone knows that Formula 1 is very popular in Germany, because we have some big talents like Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, but I know that all these guys follow MotoGP and they are really excited about this. I think there will be some big parties and celebrations in Germany tonight!

"I'm just very, very happy and I want to say thank you to everyone: to my team, my sponsors and my father. It is 20 years since my father finished second in the 250 World Championship and now in my opinion he is also a World Champion. He has been the biggest part of my life, he has supported me from the start and my whole family have been behind me."

Bradl was the dominating force from the start of the 2011 season, winning the season-opening Qatar GP and following that with three more wins at the next five events aboard his Kalex.

By the time he had scored his fourth victory - at Silverstone in June - many people were already calling him World Champion, but Bradl refused to believe the hype. He was right to do so, for young rookie Marquez was coming on strong by then.

The Spaniard won six of the next seven races to take the championship lead in Japan, but lost it again in Australia. An unlucky accident during the first practice session at Sepang - where Marquez crashed on a wet section of track that hadn't been flagged by marshals - ruled him out of the final two GPs.

That left Bradl to secure the title before the start of the final race.

"It's been a difficult year sometimes - leading the championship by a long way isn't easy, because it's always in the back of your mind," said Bradl. "We were good in every race, more or less, but Moto2 is so close that sometimes you just want to go away on your own and ride a good race.

"After I lost the points lead at Motegi I knew it was going to be very difficult. I just told myself to never give up and to give it everything. Then the championship changed again in Malaysia. I'm sorry for Marc's crash and I give him my congratulations for a great rookie season. He won more races, but I was more consistent because I got more points."

Bradl got his first big break in racing when he was given a ride in the 2003 German ADAC Red Bull Rookies Cup. He finished seventh in that series, then moved into the national 125 championship. He was crowned 125 German Champion in 2005, when he also made his 125 GP debut at the Catalan GP.

He rode his first full GP campaign in 2006, but his rookie season was spoiled by a freak accident that left him with a badly broken right leg that brought him close to quitting. He made a determined comeback and won the first of his two 125 victories at the Czech GP during the 2008 season, which he finished fourth overall.

Bradl graduated to the new Moto2 class last season and won his first success in the category at the penultimate race of the year in Portugal. He completed the year in ninth position.


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