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Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Sunday, 28 September 2008 11:58 UK

Matt Roberts' MotoGP round-up

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport at Motegi

If, in the style of Muhammad Ali, sporting greatness is achieved by returning from adversity to reclaim your crown then Valentino Rossi secured his place alongside such legends on Sunday.

Valentino Rossi
Rossi won the MotoGP title on Sunday

Usurping Casey Stoner as motorcycle racing's undisputed number one is the kind of challenge Roger Federer now faces with Rafa Nadal, and it seems Tiger Woods will have Anthony Kim in his way when he eventually returns from injury.

Crew chief Jeremy Burgess believes Rossi could have matched Federer or Woods if he'd got his hands on a tennis racket or golf club instead of a motorcycle as a child and, whilst I doubt he'd have boxed like Ali, the Italian's ridiculous talent will at least allow him to take to four wheels in December when he enters the WRC Rally GB for the second time.

His previous appearance in 2002 ended with an ignominious crash on the first special stage but he impressed in the New Zealand round in 2006 when he finished eleventh overall behind the wheel of a Subaru.

The make and model of car that he will drive in Wales is yet to be decided, although Rossi did confirm this weekend that he will 'reward himself' for his latest title triumph with another test in Ferrari's F1 car.

The subplot to Rossi's history making at Motegi was, of course, the landmark decision to implement a one-tyre rule in 2009.

The decision was reached on Sunday morning at 9am in a special Grand Prix Commission meeting after a turbulent weekend behind the scenes, in which Ducati responded to Bridgestone's pledged support for Yamaha and Honda by offering themselves to Michelin.

The problem for Michelin was that they needed a minimum of eight bikes on the grid and with Ducati only set to have five and Tech 3 Yamaha their only other confirmed ally they launched into desperate conversations with Kawasaki on Saturday night.

However, as Michelin stuttered over Ducati's insistence that they agree not to supply tyres to Honda or Yamaha's factory teams for the next three seasons, the Italians pulled their offer. When they then confirmed their support to the one-tyre rule, the final piece of the puzzle was in place.

Now the only thing to be decided is what brand will be supplying the tyres. Interested parties have until 3 October to make their pitch and an announcement will be made on the 15th, although it is hard to see past Bridgestone, who will get unanimous backing from the riders and received Rossi's public support on Sunday night.

Jorge Lorenzo's YZR-M1 got a special Japanese Manga makeover on Sunday, with a picture of comic-book hero Arsene Lupin III in place of the usual Fiat logo.

The 'Gentleman Thief' character is famous in Italy, where the Japanese Manga series created by Kazuhiko Kato, who has the fantastic alias 'Monkey Punch', is supposedly popular.


The celebratory fairing was the creation of the team's title sponsor Fiat and the image will also appear on a limited series of Fiat 500 cars, due for release in the second half of 2009.

With Nicky Hayden officially confirmed as a Ducati rider last week, Andrea Dovizioso was presented by HRC President Masumi Hamane as his replacement in a press conference at Motegi.

This, of course, was before the decision had been made on a single tyre but after confirming that the pair would get equal treatment Hamane said he hoped that the wall - both physical and metaphorical - that currently stands in the Repsol Honda garage could now come down. Dovizioso, however, will be no pushover, on the track or off it.

"I'll be happy to work together with Dani but if he doesn't want to then that isn't a problem for me either," remarked the Italian, who will be replaced in the Scot Honda satellite team by 250cc rider Yuki Takahashi.

Don't expect any such political breakthroughs at Yamaha, where Rossi has enjoyed hiding his toys from his team-mate Lorenzo this year.

Not only does he think the wall is good for his rivals, the new World Champion would even recommend it to his friends.

"It has suited me this season and I think it has benefited Jorge too. Maybe it's the future!"

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see also
Rossi roars to sixth world title
28 Sep 08 |  MotoGP
MotoGP world championship
14 Sep 08 |  MotoGP
MotoGP calendar 2011
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP

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