Motorcycling: Michelin man Pedrosa steals Stoner's glory

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The Independent Online

The 22-year-old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa may have signalled a healthier future for MotoGP competition in 2008 when he won the final race of the season in Valencia yesterday on his Repsol Honda.

On his Michelin-shod bike, Pedrosa prevented the Australian Casey Stoner, on a Marlboro Ducati equipped with Bridgestone tyres, from scoring a third consecutive victory. In taking his second win of the year, Pedrosa also lifted himself into second place in the championship, relegating Valentino Rossi, the former king of MotoGP racing, into third position.

Stoner, 21, had already clinched the championship with a searing run of 10 wins from 18 races that caused virtual panic in the paddock. No one could break the Stoner-Ducati-Bridgestone grip as a sport synonymous with wheel-to-wheel action was suddenly confronted with Formula One-style monotony.

The organisers threatened to convert MotoGP almost overnight into a single-tyre championship to level the competition, and Rossi schemed to abandon Michelin for Bridgestone in 2008.

ButPedrosa's five-second win over Stoner on the 2.5-mile Ricardo Tormo circuit indicates that Honda and Michelin have regained their composure and technical ability, and may be able to compete effectively next year.

"This was an important win for Michelin," Pedrosa said. "I had to push hard at the beginning to catch Casey. At the end the tyres started to move quite a bit, but I was trying to get more grip from them."

Stoner said: "With five laps to go I started to lose grip from the right side of my rear tyre, so I decided to call it a day. Everyone's going to come out tougher and stronger next year, but I will do everything I can to make sure than I come out on top."

Rossi, the five-times MotoGP champion, gamely started from the sixth row of the grid in 17th place after crashing in qualifying on Saturday and fracturing three bones in his right wrist and little finger. This preserved his remarkable record of having competed in every one of the 100 races that have taken place since the new era of MotoGP competition was launched in 2002.

He needed to finish only in 15th place to score a solitary point and maintain another record, that of having finished in the top two of a motorcycle world championship for the 12th year since 1996. But his 800cc Fiat Yamaha developed a technical problem after he had climbed to 14th, and he dropped to third position in the rankings.

The American John Hopkins closed a five-year career with Suzuki by taking the final podium position before he switches to Kawasaki next year.

Britain's James Toseland, who won the World Superbike Championship on a Ten Kate Honda this year, was at Valencia to review the series that he will join next season. He will start testing for the Yamaha Tech 3 team in Malaysia on 13 November.

2007 MotoGP final results

Leading final race positions: 1 D Pedrosa (Sp) Honda 46mins 43.533secs, 2 C Stoner (Aus) Ducati 46:48.980, 3 J Hopkins (US) Suzuki 47:03.937, 4 M Melandri (It) Honda 47:08.360, 5 L Capirossi (It) Ducati 47:09.337, 6 C Vermeulen (Aus) Suzuki 47:09.395, 7 A Barros (Br) Ducati 47:13.003, 8 N Hayden (US) Honda 47:13.866, 9 R De Puniet (Fr) Kawasaki 47:14.428, 10 T Elias (Sp) Honda 47:14.563, 11 S Guintoli (Fr) Yamaha 47:22.296, 12 C Checa (Sp) Honda 47:26.039, 13 C Edwards (US) Yamaha 47:30.105, 14 S Nakano (Japan) Honda 47:33.753, 15 M Tamada (Japan) Yamaha 47:40.412

Final Riders Championship Standings: 1 Stoner 367pts, 2 Pedrosa 242, 3 V Rossi (It) Yamaha 241, 4 J Hopkins 189, 5 M Melandri 187, 6 C Vermeulen 179, 7 Capirossi 166, 8 Hayden 127, 9 Edwards 124, 10 Barros 115, 11 De Puniet 108, 12 Elias 104, 13 Checa 65, 13 A Hofmann (Ger) Ducati 65, 15 A West (Aus) Aprilia 59

Manufacturer Championship Standings: 1 Ducati 394pts, 2 Honda 313, 3 Yamaha 283, 4 Suzuki 241, 5 Kawasaki 144, 6 KR212V 14