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Stoner Beats Spies In Valencia Photo Finish

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Ben Spies & Casey Stoner - Photo Credit:

Ben Spies & Casey Stoner - Photo Credit:


Casey Stoner rounded off his championship winning year with a dramatic last lap victory at Valencia, overtaking Ben Spies' Yamaha on the run to the finish line. Despite light drizzle falling during much of the race, Stoner looked be cruising to a dominant victory but when the rain intensified in the closing laps, the race came to life.

After taking pole by a full second, all eyes were on the new world champion at the start, with Dani Pedrosa mindful that he had to get his nose in front to stand any chance of challenging his teammate. The Spaniard got away well but Stoner held him off into the first corner, with the drama taking place further back.

Andrea Dovizioso made a lightning getaway from eighth on the grid, moving up to challenge Spies for third. Unfortunately, as the Italian moved across to take the racing line, slight contact was made with the Rizla Suzuki of Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard lost the front end of his GSV-R and skittled the three bikes on his outside. The unfortunate riders were Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Randy de Puniet, eliminating two thirds of the Ducati contingent.

The first lap accident at Valencia - Photo Credit:

Bautista lost control at turn one, triggering mayhem


With the entire second row of the grid wiped out, the three Repsol Hondas streaked away, joined at the front by Spies. Cal Crutchlow wasn't complaining, he was up to fifth, but the Briton still couldn't shake off Karel Abraham as the two continued their fight for the rookie of the year title.

By half distance, Stoner's lead was the thick end of ten seconds but his teammates were embroiled in a thrilling scrap for second, with plenty on the line. Dovizioso began the race with a three point lead over Pedrosa in the fight for third in the standings and was clearly motivated to leave Honda on a high.

The two traded places with regularity with Spies keeping a watching brief in fourth but the Yamaha man was only prepared to wait until lap 24 before diving past Pedrosa at turn four. The American repeated the move to demote Dovizioso two laps later but things were about to get even worse for HRC.

Almost unnoticed amid the battle for second, Stoner's lead was plummeting at an alarming rate, mainly due to increased rainfall. As the first man on track, Stoner decided to take a cautious approach but the end-result saw his lead shrink at two seconds per lap, bringing Spies right onto his tail.

With three laps to go, the seemingly unflappable Aussie cracked, outbraking himself into turn six and handing the lead to Spies but now he led the way, he was now the first man to encounter the constantly changing track conditions.

That would prove crucial as Spies chose to be careful through the final two corners while Stoner pushed slightly harder. The consequences were that the Honda got a better slingshot onto the home straight and edged its front wheel ahead with inches to spare.

Dovizioso dropped Pedrosa in the latter stages to take third in both the race, and the championship, while the Spaniard plummeted down the order. Dani was struggling more than anyone in the wetter conditions and had Crutchlow and Abraham all over him as the final lap began.

Both eased past him into turn two with Abraham leading his rival but Crutchlow dived through into turn four, putting the pressure back on the Czech youngster. Abraham responded with a look up the inside of turn five but Crutchlow closed the door, with contact sending the Cardion Ducati into the gravel trap.

Crutchlow stayed aboard his Yamaha to claim a career-best fourth with Pedrosa limping home in fifth. Katsuyuki Nakasuga profited from the mayhem to finish a surprising sixth with rookie Josh Hayes finishing a sensational seventh.

Abraham recovered back onto the track to salvage eighth with an emotional Loris Capirossi finishing his final Grand Prix in ninth. Toni Elias was tenth with Hector Barbera and Hiroshi Aoyama completing the 12 finishers.

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