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Pedrosa wins Valencia MotoGP finale
8 November 2009
Dani Pedrosa won the last race of the 2009 MotoGP season, at Valencia on Sunday.
There was drama even before the start when Casey Stoner, winner of the last two races and fastest in all track sessions at Valencia, crashed out on the warm-up lap - instantly handing Jorge Lorenzo second in the world championship.
The accident went on to cost Stoner third in the standings, with Pedrosa comfortably vaulting the eleven point deficit to the Ducati star at the end of the 30 race laps.
Valencia was a classic Pedrosa win - the Repsol Honda rider blasting from his inherited 'pole' into an early lead, then quickly breaking clear of his rivals before monitoring his advantage over Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo for the rest of the race.
Pedrosa's victory means he keeps his record of two-wins-a-season in MotoGP intact and confirmed Honda as second in the 2009 constructors' championship, between Yamaha and Ducati.
Lorenzo had overtaken newly crowned seven time MotoGP world champion Rossi for third place during the opening lap, then snatched second from Toni Elias into the final turn on lap three.
But Rossi was shadowing Lorenzo's every move and when the young Spaniard was kicked out of the seat on the following lap the Italian effortlessly moved into second. It seems that Lorenzo's airbag may have been deployed by the near highside.
Pedrosa was already 2.5sec clear when Rossi moved into second and he went on to win by 2.630 after backing off significantly in the closing stages.
Lorenzo had been 2.5sec behind Rossi at the halfway stage, then got his teeth into the Italian during the second half of the race to be less than one second behind with three laps to go.
But Rossi held on and crossed the line just a few tenths ahead of Lorenzo.
Colin Edwards, who needed to bridge a four point gap to take fifth in the championship from Pedrosa's factory Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, did just that - with a little help from his 2010 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Ben Spies.
Edwards finished fourth on Sunday, but it was only when Spies overtook Dovizioso for seventh place with six laps to go that Edwards was able to take fifth position in the standings - as the top satellite rider - by a single point.
Spies was making his Yamaha MotoGP race debut on Sunday and concluded a very impressive weekend with a strong ride, having dropped back from eighth on the grid (after Stoner's exit) to outside the top ten before fighting his way forwards again.
The result was the newly crowned World Superbike champion's best in a dry MotoGP race, having been eighth in last year's US GP for Rizla Suzuki. Few doubt that it will take long for Spies to beat his overall best MotoGP result of sixth (in the wet at Indianapolis 2008) during his first full season in 2010.
Nicky Hayden did his best to repair Ducati honour after Stoner's departure with fifth place, two-seconds behind countryman Edwards.
After his early race heroics, Elias finished his final race for Gresini Honda with a competitive sixth position and in doing so won the close six-rider fight for seventh place in the world championship.
Elias, who began the race tenth in the standings, took seventh by four points from team-mate Alex de Angelis - who finished tenth in his final Gresini ride.
Loris Capirossi came into the event joint seventh with Marco Melandri, but both Italians lost ground on Sunday. Capirossi finished a forgettable 14th while Melandri ran off track on his way to 17th during the final MotoGP appearance for the Kawasaki ZX-RR.
James Toseland concluded a two-year MotoGP career with twelfth place on the second Tech 3 Yamaha, while fellow 2010 World Superbike rider Chris Vermeulen took the final point for 15th.
Capirossi and Rizla Suzuki team-mate Vermeulen were over one minute behind Pedrosa at the flag and the GSV-R finished the season as the only motorcycle not to take a podium finish.
A test session will be held at Valencia over the next few days, when riders and teams will start work for the 2010 season.Valencian Grand Prix:
10. de Angelis
11. de Puniet