MOTEGI, Japan (Reuters) - Italy’s Valentino Rossi wrapped up his fifth MotoGP championship in style by powering to victory in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Rossi won his third world title for Yamaha and his first since 2005 on the Japanese manufacturer’s home circuit at Motegi after starting from fourth on the grid.
It also marked Rossi’s sixth premier-class world title overall following his 500cc triumph for Honda before the event evolved as MotoGP.
“It’s difficult to compare titles but this one definitely feels great,” Rossi told reporters. “It was a tough battle this year. To win the championship with a race win is fantastic.
“I’ve won some hard championships -- like the first with Yamaha in 2004 -- but this one I maybe tried to put more effort in outside of the races to try and win.”
The 29-year-old only needed to finish in the top three to clinch the title with three races left in the 2008 season and he quickly overhauled rivals Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi passed Honda’s Pedrosa on lap six and defending world champion Stoner’s Ducati eight laps later before surging away to win his fifth race in a row.
Australian Stoner finished runner-up in the 24-lap race, while Pedrosa of Spain took third. Rossi’s Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo was fourth after qualifying on pole.
Rossi celebrated victory by pulling a long wheelie as he crossed the line before being handed a T-shirt by fans with the words “Sorry for the delay!” in Italian on the front.
Rossi has an insurmountable 312 points in the world title standings with Stoner on 220 and Pedrosa on 209. The next race takes place at Phillip Island in Australia next weekend.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.