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MotoGP title battle turns full circle at Motegi

MotoGP title battle turns full circle at Motegi

The 28th September A-Style Grand Prix of Japan is an opportunity to take a sixth World Championship for Valentino Rossi, and a return to the last chance saloon for Casey Stoner.

As the MotoGP World Championship enters the home stretch of flyaway races before its finale in Valencia, Twin Ring Motegi will host the fifteenth event of 2008 on 28th September, for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan.

The 2008 title winner could potentially be crowned at this latest 800cc showdown and, in an about turn from this time last season, it is Valentino Rossi who has the chance of confirming the World Championship in Japan at the expense of Casey Stoner. Arriving at Motegi with an 87-point advantage, with the honour of being the winner of the most premier class races in history secured and on a four-race winning streak, Rossi needs only to finish third in Japan to clinch his sixth MotoGP trophy.

That does not mean that all is said and done, however. Last year Rossi conceded the title in discreet fashion in the MotoGP race, dropping down to thirteenth with a mechanical problem in a situation that permitted Stoner the luxury of not having to push for higher than sixth.

Rossi has only won once before at Motegi, onboard a 500cc Honda back in 2001. This year he can even afford a maiden victory in Japan for Stoner, whose return to Japan could see him conceding the title almost a year to the day after winning it.

Stoner may only have the slimmest of chances to prevent Rossi from experiencing his sixth MotoGP title, but he is still in the driving seat for the runner-up spot in the 2008 season. The Ducati rider has a seven point advantage over Repsol Honda´s Dani Pedrosa, who is currently on a run of five races without a podium – the longest of his Grand Prix career since his first top three in 2001.

One rider who has stepped onto the rostrum in recent weeks is Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi´s Fiat Yamaha teammate. The Spaniard has regained confidence lost after a series of crashes to take two front rows and podiums in as many races, making him a dark horse for the runner-up spot and giving some breathing space in the Rookie of the Year battle.

Lorenzo´s perennial rival and fellow debutant Andrea Dovizioso finished on the podium at last year´s 250cc race in Japan, setting the fastest lap of the contest in the process. The future of his JiR Team Scot outfit, and as a result his own destination for 2009, is set to be announced at Motegi.

With their own teams for next season already established, Chris Vermeulen, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden are separated by just 13 points in their quest for a top six finish in 2008. Whilst the former duo have renewed their contracts with Japanese factories Suzuki and Yamaha, respectively, a move from Honda to Ducati for Hayden at the end of the year has been recently confirmed.

Home rider Shinya Nakano and Alice Team´s Toni Elias complete the top ten in the category, ahead of Motegi racewinner for the last three years Loris Capirossi.


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