It's never a good thing when most of the drama in a race takes place before it starts, but such was the case today in the finale of the MotoGP World Championship at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain, when pole sitter Casey Stoner crashed the Marlboro Ducati on the warm-up lap and was unable to start the race.Stoner, the winner of the last two MotoGPs and the fastest rider at Valencia all weekend, highsided on the warm-up lap - guaranteeing that Jorge Lorenzo would get second in the championship and all but handing third in the title chase to Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.Pedrosa made sure of that when the race got started, the Spaniard winning at home after jumping to the lead from his front-row start and holding that lead to the end of the race. The victory, his second of the season, allowed Pedrosa to make up the 11-point lead that Stoner had on him prior to the start of the race for third in the championship.Pedrosa would end up 2.63 seconds ahead of World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Fiat Yamaha rider holding off the late-race advances of his teammate Lorenzo."It's really great to finish off the season with a win, especially here in front of my home fans," Pedrosa said in a Honda release. "I was waiting on the grid with my visor up and I was looking to the side for Casey to arrive, but the marshal in front of me was walking to the side and I was thinking: ‘Where is he going?' So I assumed something had happened to Casey on the warm-up lap. In the first few laps I had to be careful because you have to warm up the tires here, especially on the right hand side. But once that was done, we maintained a good pace and kept focused. In the last laps, the wind was strong and it would have been easy to make a mistake, but I was able to control the gap to Valentino and take this win. I was thinking back to Laguna Seca where Valentino closed the gap a lot, and I also knew that Jorge was catching Valentino too, so I just kept pushing. I'm very happy for the team because we struggled quite a lot in practice here, and yet we were able to win in front of all the Spanish fans. I'd like to thank the fans too. To get third in the championship is not what I was expecting but it's a nice surprise, even though Casey wasn't in the race. This season has not been easy and tomorrow's testing will be important so that we can start 2010 in the best possible shape. This gives us a good start towards that."Lorenzo would nab the final podium spot, less than half a second behind Rossi.And if Ben Spies and fellow Texan Colin Edwards weren't already friends and future teammates, they got a little closer today when Spies's pass on Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso helped Edwards - who was fourth today - take fifth in the championship by a single point. Had Dovizioso kept Spies behind him in their battle for seventh, the Italian would have tied on points with Edwards and would have taken the spot in the title chase based on a tie-breaker.Spies' Yamaha MotoGP debut was a good one with the World Superbike Champion putting in a strong ride to seventh - for his best dry-weather MotoGP finish after having to ridden the Rizla Suzuki to sixth in the wet Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix last year. Spies ended the first lap in 10th, stayed there for the first four laps, then dropped back to as far back as 12th before starting his march forward that would take him to the back of Dovizioso's Honda on the 21st lap. On the 24th lap, Spies took the spot from the Italian and held it for the rest of the 30-lap race.Nicky Hayden ended his debut season with Ducati on a high as he finished fifth, two seconds behind Edwards and barely ahead of San Carlo Honda's Toni Elias. Spies was another three seconds behidn in eighth - just .658 of a second ahead of Dovizioso.Ninth went to Pramac Ducati's Mika Kallio with San Carlo Honda's Alex de Angelis completing the top 10.Rossi ended the season 45 points clear of Lorenzo, 306-261 with Pedrosa third with 234 points, 14 better than the non-starting Stoner. Edwards's 161 points gave him fifth by a single point over Dovizioso. Elias, de Angelis, Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri rounded out the top 10 in the title chase. Nicky Hayden ended up 13th, but his strong finish to the season put him just seven points out of eighth.

MotoGP Final

1.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

2.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

3.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

4.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

5.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

6.                  Toni Elias (Honda)

7.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha)

8.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

9.                  Mika Kallio (Ducati)

10.                  Alex de Angelis (Honda)

MotoGP Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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