Rossi wins MotoGP title

Fiat Yamaha rider earns sixth MotoGP premier class championship

By Motorcycle.com Staff, Sep. 29, 2008
Though he only needed a third-place finish at the Grand Prix of Japan to secure the MotoGP premier class title, Valentino Rossi chose not to play it safe. The Fiat Yamaha rider passed Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner for the lead with ten laps to go and held on for the win to clinch the title in grand style on Sept. 28.

With the victory Rossi becomes just the second rider in history to recapture the title after two years, the other being Giacomo Agostini. This is Rossi’s third title with Yamaha, his sixth in the premier class and eighth in total in a career spanning 12 years.

Rossi struggled early on at the Motegi track and was sitting in fifth after the first lap. He passed teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden on the next lap before catching up to Stoner and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. The trio were within a few tenths of a second of each other through the next four laps. On lap six both Rossi and Stoner got past Pedrosa and the race for first was on.

Valentino Rossi never looked back after passing Casey Stoner.

With ten laps to go Rossi finally got by Stoner and pulled away, winning the Grand Prix of Japan by a margin of 1.943 seconds. The victory is the eighth of the season for Rossi and 70th overall in the premier class. With three races remaining he has the chance to match the 11 he won in 2005.

Rossi celebrates his eighth MotoGP championship.

“It’s a great victory and a great achievement; I think it’s at the same level as the first title in 2004 with Yamaha, maybe even better,” says Rossi. “This championship has been very long and hard and all of the team and all of Yamaha have worked very well, never giving up for one moment. We have been able to put a great bike onto the track in all conditions and at all circuits, and this has allowed me to ride like this and to win so many races. I am very happy. The race was a great battle and I had to ride at 100%, like I have all through the season. Pedrosa and Stoner today were very strong and it was fun to fight with them like this.

Rossi says this was the hardest he’s ever had to work to win a world championship. Taking the title with a victory after a couple years of coming up short also means a lot to him.

“We have lost for two years and I don’t think I was the favorite this season, but we have shown that we are a great team and that we never give up.”

“Simply amazing! Every time he surprises us,” says team manager Davide Brivio. “We’ve already been working together for five years and what he can deliver on the track is always unbelievable. This year is another demonstration of how strong Valentino is, especially to come back to this level of performance after two very hard years.”

Rossi’s victory, along with Lorenzo’s fourth place finish, also secured the triple crown of rider, manufacturer and team titles for Yamaha and the Fiat Yamaha team.

“Congratulations to Valentino, to all the team and Yamaha engineers, and thank you to Bridgestone, Fiat and all of our sponsors and partners,” says Brivio. “Congratulations also to Jorge’s team and to Tech 3, they have all played a big part in winning the Triple Crown.”

Stoner came into the race as the only rider within striking range of Rossi, but he says fatigue got the better of him at Motegi.

“Unfortunately in the second half of the race I started to get tired in the changes of direction and I was having to close the gap coming out of the corners to get into the next one - simply because I didn't have the strength to flick the bike over with the throttle open,” says Stoner. “The lap times dropped off and when Valentino came past I couldn't keep up.”

Stoner calls Rossi a worthy champion, cut is still upset with himself for sliding out in Brno and Misano.

“He's had an amazing season - he only made one mistake at Assen and the rest of the time he's been on the podium, winning races,” says Stoner. “He's a worthy champion - eight world titles show that - and I want to congratulate him for that. I'm just disappointed that we made two mistakes in the mid-point of the season that allowed him to open up such a big advantage.”

Grand Prix of Japan Top Five Results
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha --
2nd Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro +1.943
3rd Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +4.866
4th Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha +6.165
5th Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda +24.593

MotoGP Top Five Standings
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha 312
2nd Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 220
3rd Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 209
4th Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha 169
5th Andrea Dovizioso JiR Team Scot Honda 136