MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 3 - Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner stole the thunder from the world championship battle by winning his second grand prix in a row with a calculated ride in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.Stoner, who won his first race of the season two weeks ago in Aragon, was thought to be an afterthought to Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, who could have scored enough points that he'd clinch the title in Malaysia quite easily in the absence of the injured Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa was in a Barcelona hospital recovering from surgery after fracturing his left collarbone in a Friday practice crash when his throttle stuck.Having qualified third fastest, Stoner went into the lead with a pass of pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) two turns from the start, and then they were off.Stoner dictated the pace and whenever the Italian made a charge, the Australian countered. The gap went over a second late and grew quickly in the final two laps.The margin of victory was 3.868 secs."It was awesome," Stoner said. "This one of my most memorable wins. It is obvious that our bike is not perfect for this track and to be able to come out and still win is just awesome, for me and the team and everybody. It was something that nobody expected."Dovizioso was the lone Repsol Honda rep and he understood he needed to fly the company flag high."Yeah, sure I was alone on the team and I need a good position," he said. "Unfortunately I couldn’t make the victory, but second position is so important. we go in Malaysia I think in a better position. In this race I make a good experience behind Casey. I think we can improve in a few place, so we’ll be strong."With little drama for the win over the final few laps the focus shifted to the fight for third, and it was epic. Fiat Yamaha teammates Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi went head to head over the final two laps, the pair bumping into each other more than one.Lorenzo attacked on the penultimate lap, Rossi answered right back. Lorenzo charged again and Rossi again turned him back.The same thing would happen on the final lap in just about the same stretch, with Rossi again prevailing. When they got to the end of the back straight Rossi hung out his right leg and Lorenzo could do nothing to pass him."Yeah, I think, you know, also Jorge is very determined and aggressive because he wants to beat me for the podium," Rossi said. "I think is normal. I mean, everybody give the maximum, won’t give up. For that reason I make the congratulation also for him, because he come back, he never give up. He want to beat me 100%, so for that reason when you have two riders like this is something very funny"On the verge of his first MotoGP title, Lorenzo wasn't amused. He complained to Yamaha management, who then had a face to face meeting with Rossi."We are not fighting for the world title; I am not fighting for the world title, we are partners in Yamaha," Lorenzo said. "And it is not only the riders world title at stake, there is also the constructor world title that we are only 25-points in front of Honda, so we can easily lose that by a crash and he can put my world championship at risk."Having finished a dispiriting sixth in the last race in Aragon, Rossi was ecstatic to be in fighting form in Japan and take third.Lorenzo had the consolation of knowing that his lead on the absent Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was no 69 points, 297 to 228. Stoner is third with 180.Had Lorenzo finished second or better, he could have clinched the MotoGP title in Malaysia, if Pedrosa doesn't show up. Pedrosa had surgery to repair his fractured left collarbone on Saturday. He was expected to spend a day or two in the hospital. Neither his doctor nor the team would give a date on his return.Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards finished a season best fifth, while teammate Ben Spies was three back after an early race off-track excursion. Spies and Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden both ran off the track in Turn 5 early on. Starting from next to last, Spies made up seven places. Hayden recovered to finish 12th."In terms of the result I'm really happy because it is my first top six finish of the year and I think it was deserved after all the hard work the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and me have been putting in to improve our results," Edwards said. For his part, Spies felt that "considering everything that happened this weekend with me not being totally happy with the bike and then running off early on, I'm extremely happy to finish eighth, especially coming from 15th."As for Hayden, he felt he'd never gotten up to speed on the weekend and was happy to put the race behind him."Yeah, has not been a good weekend for us from the first Friday," Hayden said. "Just got behind and never really caught up. Actually we made a couple changes for the race and the bike felt better the first lap and a half, the warm-up. And I felt, well I'm going to be able to stay in with this second group. Down into turn five I just got sucked in. everybody got in hot. I didn't get it stopped and followed Spies off. And then out in the grass. It's rained a lot, sideways, and then Spies was going back on and we touched and then I just about lost the front in the sand and I had to stand it up and when I went to pull back on there was a big, I don't' know if it was from all the rain, but there was a big gap from the grass to the curb. I just thought, no way I can pull across that. so I followed it down and lost a lot of time"San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli equaled his MotoGP best in sixth and 1.8 secs. up on Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki). Bautista was racing teammate Loris Capirossi when the Italian ran off the track, his bike stalling. He finished 16th and last.LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet, who also ran off the track, finished ninth. In his home race Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) equaled his career best tenth from the opening race in Qatar.MotoGP Results:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

6. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

7. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki)

8. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

9. Marco Melandri (Honda)

10. Randy de Puniet (Honda)

12. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

 

MotoGP Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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