Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Valencia:
Casey Stoner has capped his 2011 MotoGP championship with his 10 win of the season, pipping Ben Spies to the line by less than two hundredths of a second. The victory meant that Stoner won the very first and the very last race of the 800cc era, matching his 2007 season for number of wins with 10.
The surprising end of the race was matched by the surprise at the start. As Andrea Dovizioso cut across to enter Turn 1, Alvaro Bautista was forced to grab some extra front brake, folding the front and taking out a bevvy of Ducatis with him. Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Randy de Puniet were all taken out by Bautista's bike, leaving just 12 bikes on the grid.
At the front, Casey Stoner was doing what he has done all year, pouring on the gas and pulling a gap at the front. By mid race, his advantage was over 10 seconds, and the Repsol Honda rider looked untouchable. Another processional race looked in the offing, with the result seemingly settled.
Stoner's Repsol Honda colleagues seemed determined to make up for the lack of excitement at the front. Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa had settled into 2nd and 3rd, and were engaged in mortal combat for 3rd in the championship. Pedrosa needed to beat Dovizioso and gain 4 points on the Italian to secure 3rd, while Dovizioso just needed to finish ahead of Pedrosa. They swapped paint, swapped places and gave no quarter for the first 20 laps, Dovizioso holding the upper hand but never able to force the advantage home. Behind the Repsols, Yamaha's Ben Spies sat waiting, poised to pounce should either man make a mistake, something that both Doviozioso and Pedrosa did repeatedly.
The battle was eventually decided by the weather, the rain starting to fall a little heavier making conditions ever more treacherous. As Pedrosa pushed hard to get by Dovizioso, he had a nasty moment, the bike threatening to slide out from underneath him. That was enough to allow Spies past and dent Pedrosa's confidence, and Pedrosa let the Texan and the Italian go.
The weather was also causing problems for Stoner. Despite having a huge lead, Stoner had no reference points, and backed off when the weather got worse. Spies and Dovizioso had each other for reference, and could tell how hard to push by watching each other. Stoner dropped 4 seconds in one lap, then another couple of seconds the next, and with three laps to go, Spies and Dovizioso were upon him. Spies quickly got past and looked the strongest of the trio, looking to gain his second win of the season after his victory at Assen. But Stoner closed the gap in Turn 13, then got perfect drive out of 14 to fly past Spies just as they crossed the line. The margin of victory was negligible, but enough to give Stoner the win. Spies was forced to settle for 2nd, while Dovizioso was happy to take 3rd in the race to add to 3rd in the championship.
Behind the podium riders, a race-long battle between Karel Abraham and Cal Crutchlow was fought over the title of rookie of the year, Abraham drawing the short straw when he ran into the back of Crutchlow, after the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider stuffed his bike up the inside of Abraham's Cardion AB Ducati. Crutchlow came home to his best result of the season, finishing 4th, ahead of Pedrosa, with Yamaha test rider Katsuyaki Nakasuga winning the battle with Tech 3 replacement rider Josh Hayes. Hayes had put in a strong performance all weekend on his very first outing on a MotoGP bike, competing with Nakasuga and finishing the weekend without crashing the bike.
Karel Abraham crossed the line in 8th, while Loris Capirossi finished the final race of his 22-year career in 9th to a massive round of applause from the crowd and the media.
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