"This feels unreal at the moment. I'm struggling for words. I don't think there's any feeling that can compare to this. I guess it'll sink in a little more as the day goes on and then into tomorrow," said a smiling Stoner following a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Australian, competing in only his second season of MotoGP, needed to beat Valentino Rossi to wrap up his first world title three rounds early - but with the Italian superstar still leading with ten laps to go, that had looked unlikely. However, the drying track eventually forced even the frontrunners to pit for a change of bike, which proved to be Rossi's undoing.

Stoner, Marco Melandri and Rossi had spent most of the wet part of the race battling for victory - and all eventually pitted within the space of one lap, but when the trio rejoined Rossi was immediately struggling with the front of his M1. The former five times MotoGP champion then pulled into the pits to have his machine examined - all but handing Stoner the crown.

"The race started out quite well, but unfortunately my tyres started to destroy themselves. I didn't really know whether to come in or not, but then the team put 'box' on the pit board so I had a bit more confidence to come in," said Stoner, who rejoined in fifth. "After I changed bikes, I think there was a problem with the steering damper - the bike wasn't allowing me to top into corners - so I had to slow down to unwind the steering damper so it would work.

"Then Valentino had a problem... It's a little bit overwhelming; we didn't really expect to get [the title] at this race. It's all come on me quite quickly - I didn't expect to be world champion today," confessed Casey, who wheelied across the finish line in a safe sixth position.

"There's a lot of people I have to thank; my parents who have supported me through my whole career, my wife who has been with me the last few seasons and everyone that has helped me along the way - including my whole team and Bridgestone tyres. I just want to say a big thanks to everyone who has had anything to do with my career - we finally did it!" concluded a delighted Stoner.

Stoner's first world championship also marked the first MotoGP title for Ducati and tyre supplier Bridgestone.

Stoner's team-mate Loris Capirossi won the race, his first victory of the season, after a well-timed pit stop - taking Ducati's tally of 2007 MotoGP wins to nine.

 

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