Round 13 saw the grid move to Ãragon, and, just for a change, it was Casey Stoner who took advantage on the Saturday and claimed pole position ahead of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, starting on the front row for the 15th consecutive race, and Dani Pedrosa. On race day, Stoner grabbed a great start, where as Pedrosa, who normally scoots to the front of the pack by turn 1, dropped to 5th. The plucky Spaniard fought back, and was eventually on Stoners back again. Lorenzo had his own troubles, as he was being harassed by Nicky Hayden. The 2 scrapped throughout the race, and just as he looked to continue his run of podiums, Hayden forced his way through in style on the last lap to claim the final podium spot. Stoner went on to win the race 5.5s ahead of Pedrosa, with championship contender Rossi back in a lonely 6th.
Then came a trip to the land of the rising sun, and the Motegi circuit in Japan. And the weekend promised to be a corker, as Andrea Dovizioso went a step better than Laguna Seca and claimed his first ever MotoGP pole start. The front row had a disjointed look to it, with Rossi in 2nd and Stoner in 3rd. Lorenzo eventually placed 4th and Dani Pedrosa was absent, after breaking his collarbone in Friday Practice.
As the race started, Stoner repeated what he had done in Ãragon and shot off into the lead. Dovizioso managed to stick with him at first, but the Ducati rider started to post fastest lap after fastest lap to shake off the sole Honda rider. As Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden slid out after just a few laps, the only major on track battle was between team-mates Rossi and Lorenzo.
And what a scrap it was.
The two team-mates showed no mercy as they continually swapped positions. Rossi could’ve let Lorenzo go on his way, as a podium would have sealed the championship for the young pretender, but the old master wouldn’t let go, eventually forcing his way past with a brilliant move which even saw the two riders touch one another. Stoner had secured the win with Dovizioso in 2nd and as the warring Yamaha’s closed in on the flag in the closing laps it was Rossi who secured the final podium spot.
With barely enough time to take what an amazing race it was at Motegi, the teams arrived in Malaysia for Round 15 at the Sepang circuit. In qualifying, it was business as usual at the front, with Lorenzo claiming his 6th pole of the year with Hayden and Dovizioso just behind. On race day, Lorenzo had a usual quick start followed by Dovizioso. A surprise was Valentino Rossi who fell away from the pack and ended up 11th. But by lap 3 the Italian was up to 4th and set off after the leaders. As he continued to set one fastest lap after another by midway through he had caught and passed Dovizioso and Lorenzo.
Eventually, Dovizioso passed Lorenzo to grab the 2nd step on the podium behind Rossi, who took his 2nd win of the year with 3rd place being enough for Jorge Lorenzo to be crowned World Champion. The Spaniard was understandably overcome, and then celebrated in usual extravagant fashion. 2 of his mechanics dressed as Mario characters, and Lorenzo held a placard with a simple message. Game Over.
From the excitement of Malaysia the grid moved down under for Round 16, to Phillip Island and it was Casey Stoner who continued his home dominance with his 3rd pole position in 3 years at the circuit. Lorenzo lined up behind the Austrailian with Ben Spies in 3rd. In the race the Aussie held a lights to flag finish to take his 4th consecutive victory at the circuit, Lorenzo took a lonely race through to 2nd. Spies fell back at the start, with Hayden taking up the role of 3rd place man, until 8th place starting Rossi flew through the field to grab the final podium spot on the final lap, claiming it by just 0.038s.
After an uninspiring Australian Grand Prix, the series moved to Portugal for the penultimate round at the Estoril circuit. With the weather playing havoc with the schedule, heavy rain caused the circuit to hold water like a bath and qualifying was postponed. This gifted Lorenzo his 7th pole of the season, as times from FP2 were used to determine the grid. Hayden and Rossi lined up behind the champion. Rossi grabbed the initiative and led for most of the race, but with 11 laps to go, Lorenzo passed the old master and won by a clear 9s, with Rossi beating 3rd place man Dovizioso by 18s.
For the 18th and final race of the season, the grid moved to Valencia, a home race for the champion, how fitting, but it was Casey Stoner who took the pole position in front of Lorenzo with a surprise just behind, with San Carlo Gresini Honda rookie Marco Simonchelli grabbing a debut front row start. As the race began Stoner led with Pedrosa just behind, but as the race continued the pace became too much for the still injured Honda rider and he fell off the pace. Lorenzo survived a major scare after a coming together with Simonchelli saw his Yamaha machine buck like a scared horse, but somehow he managed to save it and continue through to pass Stoner and take the final, and his 9th, of the season, 4.5s clear, with Stoner holding 2nd and Rossi in 3rd. A 7th for Pedrosa saw him secure 2nd in the championship.
So the final championship table looks like this –
1. Jorge Lorenzo – FIAT Yamaha – 383 points
2. Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda – 245
3. Valentino Rossi – FIAT Yamaha – 233
4. Casey Stoner – Malrboro Ducati – 225
5. Andrea Dovizioso – Repsol Honda – 206
6. Ben Spies – Monster Yamaha Tech3 – 176
7. Nicky Hayden – Marlboro Ducati – 163
8. Marco Simonchelli – San Carlo Gresni Honda – 125
9. Randy De Puniet – LCR Honda – 116
10. Marco Melandri – San Carlo Gresni Honda – 103
10. Colin Edwards – Monster Yamaha Tech3 – 103
12. Hector Barbera – Paginas Aspar Ducati – 90
13. Ãlvaro Bautista – Rizla Suzuki – 85
14. Aleix Espargaro – Pramac Ducati – 65
15. Hiroshi Aoyama – Interwetten Honda – 53
16. Loris Capirossi – Rizla Suzuki – 44
17. Mika Kallio – Pramac Ducati – 43
So 2010 has drawn to a close, what should we look forward to for 2011? Well, there are a few rider movements to watch out for. Rossi has joined the Italians at Ducati, top rookie Spies has joined the factory Yamaha team, with WSB rider Cal Crutchlow taking his place at Tech3. Casey Stoner has joined the now 3 bike team at Repsol Honda. This is sure to be explosive at the front.