Casey Stoner won his second successive race at the rain-soaked Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was Valentino Rossi’s third place that secured him a ninth world title – a seventh in the premier class – as the Italian successfully defended his 2008 crown, with Dani Pedrosa finishing second.
Casey Stoner won his second successive race by an impressive 14.666s margin at the rain-soaked Shell Advance Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was Valentino Rossi’s third place that secured him a ninth world title – a seventh in the premier class – as the Italian successfully defended his 2008 crown, with Dani Pedrosa finishing second.
Rossi rode a controlled race to take his place on the podium for the 163rd time across all three classes in his 226th successive Grand Prix start, in a remarkable career which has seen him win at least one race in 14 consecutive seasons.
The race started on a wet track after a 35-minute delay due to rain, and a problem with Jorge Lorenzo’s bike during the sighting lap meant that failure to join the starting grid in time resulted in relegation from the front row 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 nasty high-side crash early on, which fortunately resulted in no injury for the Frenchman, and Nicky Hayden was dogged in his attempt to hold off Lorenzo in fifth place. The Fiat Yamaha rider managed to overtake 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.
Aleix Espargaró impressed with an eleventh-placed finish in his third MotoGP race of the campaign for Pramac, whilst 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.
Hiroshi Aoyama was the eventual victor in the 250cc race after a magnificent head to head duel with Marco Simoncelli, who placed third after a photo finish was required following Héctor Barberá’s surge.
Simoncelli blasted through the field from his grid position of eighth to ignite his contest with Aoyama, with Jules Cluzel leading the early stages of the race whilst the title rivals sparred. The Matteoni Racing man’s crash on lap ten took him out of the equation, allowing the main championship contenders to go head to head.
Aoyama started to push hard and a new track record of 2’07.597 on lap 15 saw him pull away, as Barberá started to contest second position with Simoncelli.
Crossing the finish line with a 6.397s advantage, Aoyama extended his lead at the top of the championship standings to 21 points over Simoncelli, and he now needs only a tenth-placed finish or better in Valencia to secure the 2009 title ahead of the Metis Gilera rider.
Barberá rose to third in the standings after Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar Team) crashed out on lap nine, as Thomas Luthi (Emmi – Caffe Latte) and Héctor Faubel (Valencia CF – Honda SAG) completed the top five.
A close battle between Julián Simón and Bradley Smith was won by the freshly-crowned 125cc World Champion, as he beat his Bancaja Aspar team-mate in a final-lap fight.
The duo, who battled closely at Phillip Island last weekend, again crossed swords as Simón held Smith’s challenge off on the last corner of the Sepang circuit. The Brit’s placing secured second position in this year’s World Championship as well, despite a broken metatarsal bone in his right foot from a qualifying crash on Saturday.
Pol Espargaró (Derbi Racing Team) completed the podium, coming in just over five seconds behind Smith, with Sergio Gadea (Bancaja Aspar) and Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) also inside the top five, after a mechanical problem curtailed pole position holder Marc Márquez’s race.
The final event on the 2009 MotoGP calendar is the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, which takes place from November 6th-8th.