Motorcycling: Stoner 'shocked' by triumph

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The Independent Online

Casey Stoner sealed his first MotoGP world championship by finishing ahead of the five-time winner Valentino Rossi at yesterday's Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ducati rider, 21, finished sixth in Motegi, while Rossi was 13th, to take the title with three races to go. Australia's Stoner, with eight race wins this season, becomes the second-youngest winner, behind Freddie Spencer of the United States, of motorbike racing's premier class. "It's a little bit overwhelming," he said. "We didn't expect to get it here. To do it with three races to go is unreal."

It was also the first MotoGP title for the Italian team Ducati, which became the first non-Japanese winner of the 500cc title in 23 years. In a great day for the manufacturer, Stoner's Italian team-mate Loris Capirossi won yesterday's race. The next contest takes place on 14 October on Stoner's home track, Phillip Island near Melbourne.

"When I get there, it's gonna be a lot of fun," he said. "I really want to try my best to win at home."

At Donington Park, Leon Haslam kept his outside hopes of winning the Bennetts British Superbike crown alive as he powered his Airwaves Ducati to a double victory in the penultimate round, ahead of the Stobart Honda of Tom Sykes. The championship leader Ryuichi Kiyonari was sent tumbling in the opener as Cal Crutchlow lost control of his Suzuki, but on his 25th birthday the Japanese rider fought back to take third next time out.

Jonathan Rea ran fifth and seventh, and he goes into next month's finale at Brands Hatch four points ahead of Haslam.