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Casey Stoner is the new 2007 MotoGP World Champion

The long wait for the standout performer of the season is over: Casey Stoner has finally achieved his dream of becoming the 2007 MotoGP World Champion. Sixth place at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, coupled with closest rival Valentino Rossi’s desperate misfortune with his setup that left him in 13th position, was enough for the Australian to establish an unattainable points advantage and become the second youngest MotoGP World Champion in history.

The race itself was also history in the making; the first ever wet-dry Grand Prix in which riders were permitted a change to a dry set-up. The forgotten man of Ducati this season, Loris Capirossi continued his Motegi winning streak after gambling on an early change. The Italian won by over thirteen seconds in one of his final races for Ducati, the third time in as many years that he has taken victory in Japan. Many had written-off ‘Capirex’s chances of another win for the Italian factory team, but the well-travelled veteran showed his expert judgement with a perfectly judged strategy.

Randy de Puniet took his first ever podium finish in second, Kawasaki’s best result of the season. The Frenchman came back from two early run-offs, and kept his cool to bring the Ninja ZX-RR800 home in a rostrum place. He was joined by Toni Elias, a consistent threat in wet or dry who changed bikes at the perfect time. Elias had to be quick on his still injured leg to change machines in pit lane, and was put to the test as he was hunted down before putting in the fastest lap of the race with two to go.

The man that had him most closely in his sights was Sylvain Guintoli, who took a superb fourth onboard the Dunlop-shod Yamaha M1. Continually putting in the fastest laps of the race, Guintoli squeezed out everything he could from the 800cc machine to come close to his first MotoGP podium, but despite coming up short had an amazing race for his best MotoGP result.

Finishing fifth, Marco Melandri had led the race during the wet stage after a fantastic start. The Italian made a masterful move when passed by Valentino Rossi, darting into the pits to make his change the moment he relinquished the lead.

However, all eyes were on the man in sixth, as Stoner wrapped up the title with his lowest finish of the season, a sign of his tremendous consistency in 2007. Having stayed out longer than most of the field when battling for the lead, the Ducati rider came in with ten laps to go to switch to his dry bike. Rossi stayed out, and when the Italian did make his change Stoner was in fifth place. Another visit to the garage for Rossi when he ran off track, followed by more problems for the former champion, meant that Stoner could relax whilst Rossi had to endure the torture of riding in a lowly position knowing that the title was lost. For Stoner, the elation of the moment was obvious; for a devastated Rossi there was little to say.

In the lead on the opening laps, Anthony West was called in for a ride through penalty by Race Direction for a jump start; a setback for the Kawasaki rider that he refused to let affect him. Alex Barros, Nicky Hayden and John Hopkins completed the top ten, ascending a place each when Suzuki wildcard Kousuke Akiyoshi was forced to retire when above them, and 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden was one of the first to congratulate his successor Stoner on the cool down lap.

Poleman Dani Pedrosa suffered a highside after staying out longer than every other rider apart from Rossi, paying the price for pushing too hard on wet tyres.

250 cc Championship

Mika Kallio added his debut 250cc triumph to his previous two 125cc Motegi victories, continuing a three year winning run at the Japanese circuit. The Finn put his considerable experience of the track, along with his previous outings in ice racing in his homeland, to full effect in an excellent quarter litre race that will be a contender for the Grand Prix of the season.

A spellbinding battle developed between the KTM and Kopron Team Scot Honda squadrons, with Kallio, Hiroshi Aoyama, Andrea Dovizioso and Yuki Takahashi involved in a four-way duel for the victory. Two crashes for the home riders left the contenders for the win as just Kallio and title challenger Dovizioso, and when backmarkers became involved the Finn could extend his gap just enough to hold out for victory.

Second place for Dovizioso, combined with an eleventh place finish for World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, leaves the gap between the two in the standings at 36 points with three races to go. Lorenzo had the mathematical chance of retaining his crown this weekend, but now the tussle for the title is extended for another race in the quarter litre class.

Hector Barbera completed the podium spots onboard his Team Toth Aprilia, having had a great weekend in which he was able to fully concentrate on his race setup without the mechanical problems of recent rounds. He was trailed by Yuki Takahashi, the first rider to buckle in the podium battle as he ran off on lap nineteen, Alex de Angelis and Julian Simon, who also took an excursion onto the Motegi grass.

Marco Simoncelli headed the Aoyama brothers Hiroshi and Shuhei, who both suffered disappointment at their home race. Older sibling Hiroshi lowsided when trying to reclaim second from Andrea Dovizioso, and saw his chances of a third consecutive 250cc win go up in smoke, whilst Shuhei was unable to hold onto a top position after starting from pole position. Thomas Luthi was the final rider in the top ten.

125 cc Championship
Taking his fourth victory of the 2007 season, Mattia Pasini was the first rider of the day to come out on top in the rain of Motegi. The Polaris World rider had started from pole, although as has been demonstrated this year this was no guarantee of the win for Pasini. The Italian established a gap from the first corner, and second placed rider Gabor Talmacsi was only a peripheral figure after an early push to catch up with the eventual race winner.

Talmacsi’s second place extends his lead in the 125cc World Championship over today’s third place finisher Hector Faubel to nine points, with the battle against his Spanish team-mate set to go the distance this season as both Aspar riders chase the title.

Behind the podium finishers, Mike di Meglio had an excellent wet race only blighted by a crash on lap fourteen, which came just after the Frenchman had moved up into second. The top six was completed by Joan Olive and Simone Corsi, ahead of Pablo Nieto, Sergio Gadea, Michael Ranseder and Andrea Iannone. Ranseder’s result was particularly impressive considering the fact that he was riding with a broken foot after a morning highside yesterday, one which ruled him out of the afternoon qualifying session and left him starting well down on the grid.

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