Valentino Rossi has won the 2008 MotoGP World Championship by winning Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

Rossi dropped from fourth on the grid to fifth after the opening turns of the 24 lap race, but team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on lap two before hunting down race leaders - and title rivals - Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

Even if Stoner won, Rossi only needed to finish third to secure the crown, but when Stoner put a tight pass on Pedrosa on lap six, Rossi also demoted the Spaniard and then shadowed Stoner before making a victory pass under braking on lap 14.

Rossi gradually pulled away from the Ducati star, who clinched the 2007 title at Motegi last season, and enjoyed a one second advantage by lap 17, before winning his fifth race in a row - and eighth of the season - by 1.943secs at the chequered flag.

The Fiat Yamaha rider thus has an uncatchable 92 point championship lead over nearest rival Stoner with just three rounds and 75 points remaining. A perfect day for Yamaha, at its home event, was made complete by also wrapping up the 2008 manufacturers' and teams' championships.

Rossi celebrated his return to the top with a big wheelie over the line and was instantly congratulated by Stoner, before doing a burn out at the side of the track and being greeted by his waiting fan club.

Rossi was given a special t-shirt with the words "sorry for the delay" in Italian on the front and a picture of a clock, with a cartoon image of Rossi 'cooking' his world championship victory - and the names of those who have played an important part in it - on the back. Valentino then sat down at a desk to sign some sort of contract!

Rossi won five consecutive 500cc/MotoGP World Championships from 2001 to 2005, and becomes only the second rider in history - after Giacomo Agostini - to regain the premier-class crown after two successive defeats. Agostini is now the only rider with more premier-class world titles than Rossi, having won eight.

Rossi is the first rider to win the premier-class title on four different types of motorcycle: A Honda 500cc four-cylinder two-stroke (2001), Honda 990cc five-cylinder stroke-stroke (2002, 2003), Yamaha 990cc four-cylinder four-stroke (2004, 2005) and a Yamaha 800cc four-cylinder four-stroke (2008).

The 2008 MotoGP World Championship is Rossi's eighth across all three grand prix classes, having also won the 125cc crown in 1997 and 250cc title in 1999, but his first ever with Bridgestone tyres.

Rossi and Stoner were joined on the podium by Pedrosa, who survived last lap contact with Lorenzo to hold on to third position - marking his first rostrum with Bridgestone tyres and the pneumatic-valve RC212V.

Team-mate Nicky Hayden, who had qualified third, finished his final Japanese Grand Prix for Honda in fifth position - 18 seconds behind Lorenzo - with Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi holding sixth place for the entire race, most of which was spent under pressure from Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards and Gresini Honda's Shinya Nakano.

JiR Team Scot Honda's Andrea Dovizioso, who will replace Hayden at Repsol Honda in 2009, mounted a late charge to finish a fraction behind Nakano's factory spec machine, with John Hopkins completing the top ten for Kawasaki.

Hopkins hounded James Toseland for most of the race, before making a late pass. Toseland crossed the line just 0.4secs behind Hopper, with LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet in turn 0.4secs from the rookie M1 rider.

Stoner's team-mate Marco Melandri was one of a number of riders to run through the gravel at the end of the back straight, leaving him 13th at the finish, while Sylvain Guintoli (Alice) and Anthony West (Kawasaki) completed the point scoring positions.

Capirossi was the only GSV-R rider to finish, with wild-card Kousuke Akiyoshi completing a disappointing weekend by crashing on the opening lap while Chris Vermeulen retired from 13th with technical problems on lap 17.

Round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Phillip Island in Australia, next weekend.

Japanese Grand Prix:

1. Rossi
2. Stoner
3. Pedrosa
4. Lorenzo
5. Hayden
6. Capirossi
7. Edwards
8. Nakano
9. Dovizioso
10. Hopkins
11. Toseland
12. de Puniet
13. Melandri
14. Guintoli
15. West
16. Elias
17. de Angelis

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