Victory at Valencia Grand Prix hands Pedrosa second place in final standings
CHESTE, Spain -- Spain's Dani Pedrosa snatched the runner-up spot in the MotoGP world championship with a victory in the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix after rival Valentino Rossi had to retire because of a technical problem.It was the first time that five-time world champion Rossi has finished outside the top two in any category since claiming ninth place in his rookie season in the 125cc class in 1996. Pedrosa, who crossed the line over five seconds ahead of newly crowned world champion Casey Stoner, became the first rider to win at Valencia in all three classes with his emphatic victory on home soil. The 22-year-old finished the season just a point ahead of Yamaha rival Rossi who started the race despite breaking his right hand in three places during a crash in qualifying. "I'm very happy as it was a very difficult race and I had to push hard all the time," said the Honda rider. "I didn't expect second place after having such a difficult season so it isn't that bad." Stoner, who won 10 of the 18 races this season on his Ducati, finished top of the final standings with 367 points, Pedrosa was second with 242 and Rossi third at 241. Suzuki rider John Hopkins crossed the line in third ahead of Italian duo Marcos Melandri and Loris Capirossi to take fourth place in the championship. The 37-year-old Brazilian Alex Barros finished seventh behind Chris Vermeulen in his final race before retiring while Spain's Carlos Checa, who is moving to Superbikes next year, was 12th.
Pedrosa started on pole for the fourth race in a row but Stoner got off to a quick start and roared past him off the grid.However, the Honda rider quickly stepped up the pace, tucking in behind Stoner and then nipping past the Australian on the sixth lap. Rossi, who started the race in second-to-last position on the grid after his qualifying crash, worked his way up to the points-scoring position he needed to secure second place in the standings. But just as though he looked to be finding his rhythm he suffered a technical problem that forced him to coast into the pits with 11 laps to go. Pedrosa meanwhile piled on the pressure at the front to open up a commanding lead over Stoner while Hopkins settled into a distant third some 20 seconds back of the winner.