|Winner Casey Stoner celebrates with Ben Spies (L) and Andrea Dovizioso (R) after final race of season [EPA]|
Champion Casey Stoner mounted a thrilling late charge to pip Ben Spies to the line and snatch a 10th victory of the season at the final motorcycling Grand Prix of the year in rainy Valencia on Sunday.
Australian Stoner, who secured his second MotoGP title at his home event last month, powered from pole into an early lead and led by some 10 seconds at one stage but was overtaken by the American Yamaha rider with around three laps left.
When Spies ran wide on the final turn, Stoner seized his chance and his front wheel crossed the line 0.015 seconds in front.
“My heart was in my throat,” Repsol Honda rider Stoner said in an interview with Spanish television, adding that he had been forced to slow down when the rain started.
“My heart was in my throat… I tried to stay with him on the final lap and I knew I had a better exit line for the straight so I am very happy”
“I tried to stay with him on the final lap and I knew I had a better exit line for the straight so I am very happy,” the 26-year-old added.
Stoner’s Italian team mate Andrea Dovizioso was third, which was enough to clinch third place in the championship ahead of Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, also of Repsol Honda.
Spanish Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, the 2010 champion who is not competing in Valencia due to a finger injury, was already assured of second in the championship.
British Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow finished fourth and took the Rookie of the Year award.
In a dramatic start at a damp Cheste circuit, Spanish Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista lost control seconds after the off and took out Italy’s Valentino Rossi, Frenchman Randy De Puniet and American Nicky Hayden, all on Ducatis.
It was the third race in a row that Rossi had crashed out, bringing to an end a tough season for the seven-times MotoGP champion.
Riders from all three world championship categories had gathered at the pit lane earlier before completing a lap in
honour of Italian Gresini Racing rider Marco Simoncelli, who was killed in a crash in Malaysia last month.
The procession was led by former world champion Kevin Schwantz on Simoncelli’s Honda bike.
In the Moto2 category, Gresini’s Michele Pirro claimed the first win of his career after Stefan Bradl was confirmed as
champion on Saturday, becoming, at 21, the youngest German rider to win a world title.
Bradl, who crashed out of Sunday’s race, was handed the championship by default after nearest rival Marc Marquez of
Spain pulled out because of injury.
The last race in the 125cc category before the switch to Moto3 resulted in Nicolas Terol of Spain being crowned champion after Frenchman Johann Zarco crashed on lap three.