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Remarkable Rossi crowned MotoGP champion

Valentino Rossi built up an unassailable lead over teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi built up an unassailable lead over teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Valentino Rossi finishes third in Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang
  • Casey Stoner of Australia wins the penultimate round of the championship
  • 30-year-old Rossi wins premier category of motorcycling for seventh time
  • Rossi needed to finish fourth or better to claim unassailable lead
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(CNN) -- Valentino Rossi was crowned MotoGP world champion for the sixth time as he took third place in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang behind Casey Stoner of Australia.

The remarkable 30-year-old Italian needed to finish fourth or better in the penultimate round of the championship to seal his second straight title and duly delivered in wet conditions in the 21-lap race.

Rossi, who started from pole position, made a superb start to take the lead, but a rare mistake on the first lap saw him slip back to 10th before he worked his way back through the field.

Ducati star Stoner took command of the race to complete a convincing victory which consolidates his third place in the championship standings behind the Yamaha pair of Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, who took fourth place.

Lorenzo saw his hopes of denying Rossi suffer a pre-race blow as a problem with his bike on the warm-up lap saw him start from the rear of the grid and he was never able to mount a serious challenge.

Stoner, who saw his own title hopes disappear after suffering a mystery virus in mid-season which caused him to miss three races, showed his undoubted class as he built up a 14.6 second advantage over second-placed Dani Pedrosa by the finish.

Gallery: Rossi's colorful celebrations

Rossi crossed the line in third place and was immediately surrounded by team connections and fans as he celebrated yet another title triumph.

It was his ninth world championship in all classes, winning the 125 and 250cc categories before taking the 500cc, then the premier class, in 2001.

Since the first MotoGP series in 2002, Rossi has enjoyed unprecedented success with four consecutive titles to 2005 before reclaiming the crown last year.

It's a great achievement, and for me it's the ninth world championship.
--Valentino Rossi

"It's a great achievement, and for me it's the ninth (world) championship," he told the official MotoGP Web site.

He also acknowledged the tough fight he had been given by 22-year-old Lorenzo, who often threatened to wrest the crown during the course of the year.

"Throughout the season I had great rivals, at the end especially Jorge my teammate, who stayed very close to me, and we had some great fights. He's a great rival so congratulations to him," he added.

2006 world champion Nicky Hayden finished behind Lorenzo for his second best result of the season in fifth with Chris Vermeulen in sixth.

Rossi has 286 points to build up an unassailable lead over Lorenzo on 245 points with just the Valencia round remaining. Stoner is third on 220 points with Repsol Honda star Pedrosa on 209.