Rossi roars to sixth world title
Italian Valentino Rossi claimed his sixth world premier-class title by winning the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi.
He needed just one point to secure his latest triumph but made sure with his fifth straight win of the season to take his first MotoGP title since 2005.
Starting fourth on the grid, the Yamaha rider cruised to victory after passing 2007 champion Casey Stoner on lap 14.
Stoner was second, just 1.943 seconds adrift, with Spaniards Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo in third and fourth.
Rossi's win was his eighth of the season and also his 70th top-class Grand Prix victory.
Britain's James Toseland, who started the race in 10th position, finished in 11th place.
"Today was a great battle, it was a great race," said the 29-year-old Rossi, who started fourth on the grid. "I felt confident with the bike and winning the race and world championship is fantastic."
A world champion at both 125cc and 250cc, Rossi claimed the 500cc crown in 1999 before winning his first MotoGP title in 2001.
He defended it for four straight years before losing out to American Nicky Hayden in 2006 and Stoner in 2007.
Best World title so far - Rossi
"It is difficult to say which world championship is better, but this is great," said Rossi.
"I feel very good. The battle this year was very tough especially with Stoner and Pedrosa."
Rossi secured his latest championship with three races still left of the 2008 campaign which underlined his dominance this season.
"It was a long season with a lot of hard racing and hard battles," he added. "I have won a lot of difficult championships, like the first one with Yamaha in 2004, but I think this one is the one that I put more effort into to win.
Valentino is a worthy champion - Stoner
"I worked a lot in the week of the races, but also out of the races I also try to stay concentrated and very strong.
"My team deserves the championship. We work hard every weekend and we are very fast."
Stoner told BBC Sport that Rossi deserved his title.
"I felt really good out there but about halfway round I started to tire," said the Australian. "I couldn't control the bike and I let Valentino pass.
"I felt better towards the end of the race but made a little mistake and couldn't make up the time. Valentino is a worthy champion."
Rossi's victory in Japan handed him a unassailable 92-point lead with three races left in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia.
The 29-year-old made a decent start to the race and soon found himself in third position, he soon past Honda's Pedrosa on lap six before reining in Stoner eight laps later to claim the world title.
Japanese MotoGP result:
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha/B) 43min 09.599secs,
2. Casey Stoner (AUS/Ducati/B) at 1.943,
3. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda/B) 4.866,
4. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha/M) 6.165,
5. Nicky Hayden (USA/Honda/M) 24.593,
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA/Suzuki/B) 25.685,
7. Colin Edwards (USA/Yamaha/M) 25.918,
8. Shinya Nakano (JPN/Honda/B) 26.003,
9. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Honda/M) 26.219,
10. John Hopkins (USA/Kawasaki/B) 37.131,
11. James Toseland (GBR/Yamaha/M) 37.574,
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA/Honda/M) 38.020,
13. Marco Melandri (ITA/Ducati/B) 39.768,
14. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA/Ducati/B) 45.846,
15. Anthony West (AUS/Kawasaki/B) 55.748,
16. Toni Elias (ESP/Ducati/B) 59.320,
17. Alex De Angelis (RSM/Honda/B) 1:12.398.
World championship standings:
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 312 points,
2. Casey Stoner (AUS/Ducati) 220,
3. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 209,
4. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) 169,
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Honda) 136,
6. Colin Edwards (USA/Yamaha) 118,
7. Chris Vermeulen (AUS/Suzuki) 117,
8. Nicky Hayden (USA/Honda) 115,
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA/Suzuki/B) 96,
10. Shinya Nakano (JPN/Honda) 95
250cc race result:
1. Marco Simoncelli (ITA/Gilera) 43min 09.385sec,
2. Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Aprilia) at 0.348,
3. Alex Debon (ESP/Aprilia) 8.414,
4. Julian Simon (ESP/KTM) 9.151,
5. Mika Kallio (FIN/KTM) 17.041
125cc race results:
1. Stefan Bradl (GER/Aprilia) 39min 57.228sec,
2. Mike Di Meglio (FRA/Derbi) at 0.151,
3. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN/Aprilia) 0.281,
4. Joan Olive (ESP/Derbi) 5.945,
5. Nicolas Terol (ESP/Aprilia) 6.072