Casey Stoner locked up the MotoGP title yesterday in Motegi, Japan, coming in sixth against a thirteenth place showing by nearest contender Valentino Rossi. Finishing ahead of Rossi guaranteed that the Doctor could not earn enough points in the remaining three races to pass Stoner and clinched the title for the young Australian. Stoner’s title win overshadowed his Ducati teammate Loris Capirossi, who took first place in an impressive Motegi hat trick.
Rossi came on strong early in the race and was poised to take first place. As the track dried following morning rain, the racers switched from wet tires. Rossi and Dani Pedrosa chose to remain on their wet tires as long as possible while other riders went into the pits to switch motorcycles.
The decision proved disastrous for both of them. Rossi thought there was a problem with his front tire and went back into pits; his team didn’t find anything and it appeared that the tire just hadn’t heated up yet. Pedrosa crashed in the 15th lap, still riding on the wet tires.