Stefan Bradl has won the 2011 Moto2 World Championship in slightly unusual circumstances after Marc Marquez finally confirmed his official withdrawal from the Valencian Grand Prix this morning.
The Spaniard has been suffering from vision problems ever since crashing in first practice for the Malaysian GP two weeks ago but travelled to the Ricardo Tormo circuit along with his CatalunyaCaixa Repsol team in the hope he would make a last minute recovery.
But as Saturday Practice got underway, the news came through from race control that Marquez would miss the race, bringing to an end a fascinating battle for the title which has ebbed and flowed throughout the season.
Bradl stormed into an early lead, winning four of the first six races as Marquez demonstrated his sensational speed, while also showing his inexperience. After qualifying on the front row on his debut in Qatar, he crashed out of the lead battle and also ended races at Jerez, Estoril and Silverstone in the gravel, leaving him 82 points in arrears.
But the 18 year old roared back into contention with a stunning run of results. Three consecutive victories at Assen, Mugello and the Sachsenring closed the gap while a second place finish at Brno was followed by another hat-trick of wins.
Despite maintaining his consistency, Bradl's grip on the title was slipping away and fourth place at Motegi was not enough to keep Marquez at bay, with second putting the rookie into the lead for the first time all year.
Sadly, the decisive moments in determining the champion would come in free practice sessions. At the end of FP1 in Australia, Marquez piled into the back of Ratthapark Wilairot on the cooling down lap, forcing him to start from the back of the grid by way of punishment.
An incredible recovery saw him salvage third but Bradl took second to regain the championship lead with two races to go. The opening moments in Malaysia would settle matters though as Marquez suffered a heavy crash as rain fell at the start of first practice, suffering a concussion as well as injuries to his left shoulder.
Bradl finished second to extend his lead to 23 points, leaving him in need of 13th place in the Valencia finale, but with Marquez still suffering from double vision, that pressure has been lifted and the championship decided.