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Rossi clinches title as Stoner wins wet Sepang contest

Rossi clinches title as Stoner wins wet Sepang contest

Valentino Rossi finished third behind Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa at a rain-soaked Sepang to take the 2009 MotoGP World Championship title.

Casey Stoner was the race victor at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was Valentino Rossi whose achievement of third place laid the foundation for the story of the weekend.

Stoner’s second successive win was impressive enough, as was his astounding 14.666s margin of victory, but it was the Italian’s result that secured his ninth world title – a seventh in the premier class – as he defended his 2008 crown, with Dani Pedrosa finishing second with his 78th career podium across all classes.

The race started on a wet track after a 35-minute delay due to rain, and there was drama from the off. A problem during the sighting lap with his machine for Jorge Lorenzo meant that failure to join the starting grid in time resulted in relegation from second to the back.

It made little difference to the Spaniard however as he flew up to overtake Rossi, who dropped to tenth after a sluggish start from pole position. Lorenzo eventually finished in fourth position.

Randy de Puniet had a very early nasty high-side which fortunately resulted in no injury for the Frenchman, as Stoner established a four-second lead at the front over Pedrosa after just two laps.

Nicky Hayden was dogged in his attempt to hold off Lorenzo in fifth place, but the Fiat Yamaha rider managed to pass the Ducati Marlboro man before Rossi passed both to move into fourth spot after eight laps.

Shortly after, Stoner’s lead at the front had grown to a huge 15 seconds, but there was no such deficit between Pedrosa in third and his Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who diced for second spot. Disaster struck for the Italian however, as on lap 14 he succumbed to the wet conditions and slid off, allowing Rossi to move up to third and target Pedrosa.

The Spaniard was out of Rossi’s grasp for the remainder however, but third was one place higher than he required to take the title (had Lorenzo won the race), and a characteristically flamboyant celebration followed involving a chicken dressed in the Italian’s blue and yellow colours.

Elsewhere, Aleix Espargaró impressed with an eleventh-placed finish in his third MotoGP race of the campaign for Pramac, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Colin Edwards and James Toseland both struggled, finishing in 13th and 15th respectively.

After Lorenzo took fourth spot he duly handed hearty congratulations to Rossi, with Hayden equalling his second-best result of the season in fifth. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki), Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing), Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) and Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) completed the top ten.


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