Stoner wins last race of the 800cc MotoGP era
Casey Stoner wins the season-ending Valencia MotoGP by 0.015sec, four riders down at turn one.
MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner saw a ten-second lead vanish at Valencia, but re-passed Ben Spies for victory just centimetres from the finish line.
The last race of the 800cc era saw spots of rain falling throughout and began with a turn one accident that left four riders in the gravel.
Contact between Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso resulted in Bautista losing the front of his Suzuki, then bringing down factory Ducati team-mates Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, plus Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet.
The accident was especially frustrating for the Ducati riders, since their bike had performed well in damp conditions throughout the weekend.
Up front, pole sitter Stoner was soon disappearing, riding to a ten-second lead until the rain spots intensified with six of the 30 laps remaining. The Repsol Honda rider almost instantly lost all of his advantage as Ben Spies and Dovizioso homed-in on the #27.
With three laps to go Stoner's RCV got out of shape on the brakes, forcing him wide and allowing Spies into the lead.
The Factory Yamaha rider, who took his first win in similar damp conditions earlier this year at Assen, then looked to have contained Stoner.
But a fast exit from the very final turn allowed the double world champion to snatch victory back from Spies by just 0.015sec.
"I got fantastic drive out of the final turn... sorry to Ben!" smiled Stoner. It was Stoner's tenth victory of the year.
Joining them on the podium was Dovizioso, who needed to finish ahead of Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa to secure third in the world championship, behind Stoner and the absent Jorge Lorenzo.
Dovizioso, who has been moved by the loss of great rival Marco Simoncelli, seemed to ride with a Simoncelli-like attitude on Sunday, attacking Pedrosa and Spies at every opportunity to hold second for most of the race.
Pedrosa then dropped away when the rain intensified while Dovizioso later backed off to finish his Honda career with a seventh podium of the year.
Fourth place and victory in the Rookie of the Year contest was hotly contested between Cal Crutchlow and Karel Abraham. Fifth and sixth for most of the race, the pair passed Pedrosa on the last lap .
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Crutchlow then sealed his best MotoGP finish and the rookie title by overtaking Abraham, with the Czech rider clipping Crutchlow's rear wheel and running off soon after. Abraham crossed the line eighth.
The incident promoted Pedrosa to fifth, while stand-in riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) and Josh Hayes (Tech 3) claimed sixth and seventh on their MotoGP race debuts!
Loris Capirossi, making his 328th and last Grand Prix start, rode from twelfth on the grid to ninth, having lost two places in the last two laps. The Italian raced with the #58 on his Pramac Ducati as a tribute to Marco Simoncelli.
Toni Elias also lost ground to finish tenth for LCR Honda, with Hector Barbera (Aspar) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda) the final riders to reach the finish.
All three were making their last appearances for their present teams. Elias' is yet to sign, but Barbera looks set to switch to Pramac and Aoyama is confirmed as riding in World Superbike next season.
A special tribute to Aoyama's team-mate Simoncelli was held at Valencia this morning.
Testing with next year's 1000cc bikes will take place at Valencia on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Valencia Grand Prix: