The Ducati Marlboro rider finished 3.390 seconds ahead Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa for the win on the Valencia circuit. Stoner started the race on the pole but Pedrosa sprinted ahead off the start to win the holeshot. The Spaniard’s lead was short-lived however as Stoner passed him on the inside on turn two to gain a lead he would not relinquish.
The win, Stoner’s sixth of the season, secured second place in the manufacturer’s standings for Ducati.
“Once again my crew got it right, finding a good setting for the bike despite limited dry track time,” says Stoner. “To be honest I was quite worried during qualifying yesterday because I didn’t have a good feeling at all but by the time we put the softer tires on the bike was already feeling better and then the guys did a fantastic job overnight and in the warm-up this morning to iron out a few more of the problems. This was the first time we’ve ridden in these conditions all weekend so there were still a few question marks before the race, so to go out and set the pace like that was a nice feeling.
Stoner’s win came despite the pain from a lingering wrist injury. The 2007 MotoGP champion may need surgery to repair his left scaphoid but the visit to the doctor will wait until after the post-season testing of the Desmosedici GP9 at Valencia Oct. 27-28.
“Now I’m really excited about testing the new bike (Monday),” says Stoner. “It felt good the last time I rode it and I’m sure they’ve made it better, so hopefully we can have a good first session and go home for the winter full of optimism about next season.”
Pedrosa held on for second place in front of a supportive Spanish audience.
“I’m happy with second place today. I pushed Casey as hard as I could but he had something a little extra and he managed the gap very well,” says Pedrosa. “The crowd was great, it was fantastic to see so many fans here, packing the grandstands and obviously really enjoying the spectacle and pushing us along.”
Third place went to Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, giving him 373 points on the season to set a new record for points earned in a single season. The 2008 MotoGP champion earned nine wins this season, as well as five second-place and two third-place finishes, helping Yamaha win the manufacturers’ title.
Rossi struggled during the qualifying sessions and started the race tenth on the grid. The all-time Grand Prix wins leader fought his way through the pack, climbing to seventh place after the first lap and passing JiR Scot Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso on lap seven to reach third place.
“Once I got to third there was no way to catch Dani and so it wasn’t such an exciting race from then on. This has been an amazing season for us and to finish with another podium, the 16th, is great and we cannot complain. I am so happy with what we have done this year, as I said it’s definitely one of my greatest championships and I want to thank everyone once again – Yamaha, my team, the engineers, Bridgestone and everyone who helped us to get this result.”
Dovizioso finished in fourth place, two seconds ahead of Nicky Hayden, the man he will replace on the factory Repsol Honda team in 2009. The fourth-place finish pushed Dovizioso into fifth in the standings in his first MotoGP season but it wasn’t enough to win Rookie of the Year honors.
The rookie title went to Jorge Lorenzo who finished eighth in Valencia. The rookie award gave Fiat Yamaha the triple crown in winning the top rider, top manufacturer and top rookie for the season.
“Jorge was able to keep a good pace during the second half of the race and he was able to finish strongly and make his best lap on the very last lap,” says Fiat Yamaha team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “This has been a fantastic year for us because we were able to make four pole positions, win a race and take five more podiums, helping Yamaha to win the triple crown, and Jorge is the year’s leading rookie.”
Award trophies for the 2008 season were presented at the FIM MotoGP Awards Ceremony after the race at the Oceangrafic Centre in Valencia.
|2008 MotoGP final top five standings|
|1st||Valentino Rossi||Fiat Yamaha||373|
|2nd||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro||280|
|3rd||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||249|
|4th||Jorge Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||190|
|5th||Andrea Dovizioso||JiR Team Scot MotoGP||174|