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Stoner powers to Valencia victory

Casey Stoner closed the 800cc era with his tenth victory of the season by a margin of one hundredth of a second over Ben Spies, with Dovizioso claiming the third podium spot and third in the Championship.

The Repsol Honda rider launched from pole position and into the lead off the start of the Gran Premio Gernerali de la Comunitat Valenciana, the final race of the season and of the 800cc machines. Although the race was declared wet, the field all sported slicks tyres in the difficult conditions that claimed the first casualties in the very first corner.

In the rush for the first corner, Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) fell, taking out Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet along with both Ducati Team riders, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi. The crash was the Rossi’s third race in succession to conclude with a fall, marking the end of a difficult season for the seven times MotoGP World Champion.

Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa managed to avoid the incident, and with Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) already holding first and second in the Championship, the campaign for third between the teammates remained to be decided this weekend. Neither of the Repsol Honda riders showed any sign of deferring to the other as the two fought for the second spot on the podium, as well as the final Championship position, until the final laps of the race when the Spaniard slowed slightly as the slight rain fall picked up.

Ben Spies rode behind the Honda men as they battle for second, until on lap 23 the Texan made his move on Pedrosa for third, then put on the afterburners and closed in on Stoner, passing Dovizioso on the way to the front.

With three laps left, Stoner ran it wide, letting the American through to take over the head of the race and who then pulled an immediate one second gap at the front. The Yamaha man looked set to take the win, until in the very last corner of the race when the World Champion rocketed past the Texan at the line to claim his tenth win of the season and in the final race of the 800cc era.

The chase for the Rookie of the Year award between Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also went down to the very last lap, with the Czech rider poised to take the title until he touched the British rider and ran off into the gravel, handing Crutchlow the title and fourth place in the race. Abraham was able to rejoin the race to finish in eighth, ahead of Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing), who concluded the final race of his career with a ninth place.

Fifth place went to Dani Pedrosa, with Lorenzo’s replacement rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha Factory Racing) claiming sixth ahead of Colin Edwards’ replacement on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, Josh Hayes. Toni Elías (LCR Honda) completed the top ten finishers, with Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) the final race finishers.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2011, RAC

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