26 October 2008
Stoner wins Valencia finale.
Casey Stoner has won the 18th and final round of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, in front of 118,000 fans in hot and sunny conditions at Valencia.
Dani Pedrosa produced his usual swift getaway to take the lead from Stoner into turn one, but the Ducati rider dived underneath Pedrosa's special white Repsol machine at turn two - and was never threatened thereafter.
Pedrosa did match Stoner during the early stages, the pair building a two-second lead over Nicky Hayden by lap five, but Pedrosa then began to fade and was 2.6sec behind Stoner by the halfway point of the 30 laps.
Dani's only hope was that the warm race day weather - after two days of showers - and/or Stoner's injured wrist might cause the Australian to stumble in the closing stages, but Stoner remained metronomic to the chequered flag - winning his sixth race of the season by 3.390sec and handing Ducati second place in the constructors' championship. Stoner, the 2007 world champion, had already secured second in the 2008 standings ahead of Pedrosa.
All three 2008 MotoGP World Championships - riders', teams' and constructors' - were claimed by Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha and Yamaha long before Valencia, but Rossi hopes of concluding the season with a tenth victory were dealt a severe blow when he managed just tenth place in qualifying.
The Italian was up to seventh by the end of lap one, then overtook countryman Loris Capirossi for sixth on lap 3. Another Italian, Andrea Dovizioso, was Rossi's next target. The Doctor dived inside Dovi with his inside foot off the pegs into turn one, then overtook both Tech 3's Colin Edwards and Hayden to take third position on lap 6.
By that stage Pedrosa was 2.8sec in front of the #46, and any hopes of a victory challenge were soon over as Rossi lost ground to both Stoner and Pedrosa. Rossi finished 8.8sec from Pedrosa at the line, but 11.9sec in front of fourth. Rossi thus finished off the podium just twice this season and ends the year with a 93 point championship advantage.
With MotoGP moving to a single tyre brand in 2009, Valencia marked Michelin's last grand prix, but any hopes of a dream farewell victory were over when third-on-the-grid Hayden - riding in his last event for Honda before making his Ducati debut on Monday - began losing touch with the Bridgestone-shod race leaders.
Nicky put up a stubborn defence, but saw his podium hopes end when Rossi moved past and was soon fighting a losing battle with his 2009 replacement Dovizioso to finish as the top Michelin rider.
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