23 September 2007
Capirossi wins, Stoner world champion.
Meanwhile, Capirossi was never under threat and charged to his third Motegi victory in a row by over ten seconds from de Puniet, who in turn claimed his first ever MotoGP podium by 1.5secs over Elias. Toni, still recovering from a broken femur, was forced to hold off a spirited attack by class rookie Guintoli to secure his second podium of the season - but will it be enough to keep his Gresini seat for 2008?
After an unsuccessful lunge at Elias, Guintoli was forced to settle for a career best fourth - a comfortably 16secs clear of long-time leader Melandri, who had overtaken Stoner on lap 20. Casey was probably pleased to have his future team-mate away from his rear wheel and went on to cross the line a safe sixth, almost 20 seconds clear of West.
After claiming his place in MotoGP history, a relieved Stoner was congratulated by both outgoing champion Nicky Hayden and 2001-2005 champion Rossi, before carrying a huge Australian flag back to the pits - where he was mobbed by an erupting Ducati team, ready with 'world champion' winning t-shits. After the podium ceremony, Stoner and his crew were quite rightly allowed onto the rostrum to celebrate their triumph, claimed at the home circuit of rivals Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki.
Indeed, Ducati is the first non-Japanese manufacturer to win the premier-class crown since Phil Read handed another Italian factory, MV Agusta, its final 500cc World Championship in 1974. Stoner is the second youngest world champion after Freddie Spencer in 1983, while Bridgestone's first MotoGP World Championship ends Michelin's 14-year reign.
Stoner's former 250cc rival and fellow 21-year-old, Pedrosa, a pre-season title favourite, had a much worse day - suffering a vicious highside out of the final turn, while on worn wet tyres, on lap 15.
Stoner will now take his first world championship home to Phillip Island in Australia, on October 14.
Japanese Grand Prix:
2. de Puniet
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