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Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi paddled his way to his ninth world title at a wet Sepang this morning, finishing in third place as Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner romped away to take the win by 15 seconds.

It is The Doctor's seventh MotoGP crown, adding to the 125cc and 250cc titles he won in the late 1990s, and he is the only man to have won MotoGP crowns on four different types of bike: 500cc two-stroke, 990cc Honda, 990cc Yamaha and 800cc Yamaha.

All Rossi had to do was finish fourth to secure the championship even if team-mate Jorge Lorenzo won but the Spaniard had a nightmare before the race started as his number one bike refused to start in pitlane.


He went out for his wet sighting lap on bike two, but came back into pitlane as the exit closed and he then had to start right at the back of the grid, instead of his second-place slot, next to James Toseland.

As the lights went out, Rossi was first into turn one but ran wide and was shuffled right back down the order as Lorenzo got away well and was up to eleventh and right behind his team-mate inside half a lap, passing him and taking Marco Melandri with him.

At the front, Stoner had passed Respol Honda's Dani Pedrosa for the lead and was clearing off at more than a second a lap faster than anyone else. By the time lap three started, his lead was nearly four seconds, and Pedrosa had no reply.

As Lorenzo and Rossi made their way through the field, occasionally tangling with Melandri and Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi, they were the only two riders who had anything like Stoner's pace.

Rossi was shadowing Lorenzo, allowing the Spaniard to carve through the field but always keeping him in sight, making safe passes and the Spaniard was desperate to get away.

With 14 laps to go, as Stoner was some ten seconds off the front, Rossi finally put a move on his team-mate, effectively securing the title, and Lorenzo could do nothing but watch the number 46 YZR-M1 pull away.

As the laps rattled off, Rossi began to catch the Repsol Hondas in second and third but with seven to go, Andrea Doviziso lost the front of his RC212V, sliding out and handing Rossi a podium finish. The Italian didn't quite have enough laps to catch Pedrosa, however.

Toseland, meanwhile, had a nightmare race. The Monster Yamaha man finished dead last, some 1'51s behind Stoner, and was lapping four seconds slower than the Australian. Team-mate Colin Edwards was also suffering, as he could only manage 13th place but he has closed the gap to fifth-placed Dovizioso to four points.

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