everyone again at Motegi Circuit in Japan on the weekend, handily winning
the Moto GP race and cementing his sixth premier-class world title (two
in 500 cc GP, and four Moto GP).
lead, had a brief fight with Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda, while
Rossi (after a typically indifferent start) picked off riders in a tidy
and workmanlike fashion, getting his Fiat Yamaha past Stoner on lap
14 of the 24 and then motoring off into the distance.
Stoner held on for second,
while Pedrosa was demoted off the podium on the last lap by Rossi’s
Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo who put a hard pass on his fellow Spaniard
— they hit, although neither fell — to take third after also scoring
the pole position.
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda)
and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) rounded out the top six, followed
by Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha), Shinya Nakano (San Carlo Honda Gresini
Honda), Andrea Dovizioso ( JiR Scot Honda), and John Hopkins (Kawasaki).
Rossi said, "It´s difficult
to compare titles, but this one definitely feels great. I feel very
good, because the battle was very tough this year, especially with Stoner
and Pedrosa. It has been a long season with a lot of hard races. In
my career I have been lucky and have won some hard championships, like
the first with Yamaha in 2004, but this one I maybe tried to put more
effort in outside of the races to try and win.
I have to thank everyone
at Yamaha for their efforts this year, the M1 has been very fast and
we have worked very hard every weekend. Today was a great battle and
a great race, and to win the championship with a race win is fantastic."
There are three races left
in the series, the next at Philip Island in Australia next week, October
Mat Mladin had already lost
the 2008 title war to his Rockstar Yoshimura Suzuki team-mate Ben Spies,
but he comfortably won the final battle at Laguna Seca, leading convincingly
from flag to flag. Spies got an uncharacteristic bad start and was back
in seventh on the first lap, and while he managed to quickly claw back
up to second, Mladin was long gone.
Third went, once again, to
Tommy Hayden on the third Yosh team bike.
The most noteworthy news as
far as Canadian fans are concerned are that three Canucks finished in
the top 10. Miguel Duhamel you’d expect, seventh on the U.S./factory
Honda, but Canadian champion Jordan Szoke in a one-off appearance for
the U.S. Kawasaki squad carded an excellent ninth (both the regular
riders, Jamie Hacking and Roger Lee Hayden being laid up by injury)
on a bike he’d never seen before.
The U.S.-spec superbikes are completely
different beasts from the Canadian bikes — different tires, much different
engine, engine electronics, different Ohlins shock and forks — he did
a great job.
And 10th was Chris Peris, who
finished fourth in the Canadian series this year. He was riding the
Supersport-spec Team ESP GSX-R1000 he’s used for all the AMA rounds
The only AMA class that hadn’t
been decided before the weekend was the Supersport (600) class, which
went to Ben Bostrom thanks to his second-place finish at Laguna. Jake
Zemke had already tied up the Formula Extreme title, and Aaron Yates
the Superstock (1000 cc) crown.
Red Bull AMA Rookies Cup
title in this superb development series at Laguna Seca with a fifth-place
finish. The win at Laguna went to Leandro Mercado followed by Hayden
Gillim and Austin Dehaven … and if the name "Hayden" sounds
familiar, yes, the kid is related to the Hayden brothers; he’s a cousin.
Something in the water in that part of Kentucky, maybe.
Emerson Connor of Burlington continued his superb season, finishing
eighth at Laguna after starting in 14th. The team discovered a suspension
problem related to his crash at Indy, and the kid and the bike were
both on track for the race.
The finish gave him eighth for the season,
good enough to be asked back for the 2009 season. Also, since Emerson
finished in the top 10 he is going Valencia, Spain to race in the Riders
Cup at the final Moto GP of the year (top 20 Red Bull Rookies Cup riders
in the world – and the only Canadian).
This in his first year of road
racing – bloody impressive, Emerson!
With luck, he may be joined
by another Canadian next year, as phenom Jodi Christie (national and
RACE AM600 champion this year) is heading to Barber Motorsports Park
for the 2009 try-outs next weekend.