Casey Stoner snatched victory from Ben Spies in an epic finish to the 800cc MotoGP era at Valencia.
MotoGP champion Stoner had been running away with the race for the majority of the event, utterly dominating from pole. Yamaha rider Spies was embroiled in a huge battle for second with Stoner's Honda teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, several seconds behind the runaway Australian. But when rain started to fall in the closing laps, Spies broke away from the Hondas and started closing Stoner down, making it into the lead with two laps to go.
It looked like he had done enough to secure the second win of his MotoGP career, but Stoner got a better run out of the last corner of the race and grabbed the victory on the line by just 0.015sec.
Dovizioso claimed third in the championship as he completed the podium, while Pedrosa slipped back to fifth behind Cal Crutchlow. The Tech 3 Yamaha rider battled with Karel Abraham, his rival for rookie of the year honors, until the Cardion AB Ducati crashed, allowing Crutchlow to escape and beat the factory Honda to an exceptional fourth.
Several riders who might have featured strongly in the podium battle were wiped out at the first corner, when a brush between the fast-starting Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista led to the Suzuki rider falling and taking out the Ducatis of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, and Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet.
Jorge Lorenzo's stand-in Katsuyuki Nakasuga rode well to come through to sixth on the works Yamaha, ahead of an equally brilliant run from AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes, who took seventh on his MotoGP debut, replacing the injured Colin Edwards at Tech 3.
Abraham rejoined to take eighth, with Loris Capirossi (Pramac) ending his MotoGP career with ninth place.
Results - 30 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Casey Stoner Honda 48m18.645s
2. Ben Spies Yamaha + 0.015s
3. Andrea Dovizioso Honda + 5.936s
4. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha + 8.718s
5. Dani Pedrosa Honda + 9.321s
6. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha + 23.818s
7. Josh Hayes Tech 3 Yamaha + 33.118s
8. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati + 37.952s
9. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati + 48.953s
10. Toni Elias LCR Honda + 52.501s
11. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati + 1m06.519s
12. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda + 1m08.760s
Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 0 laps
Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 0 laps
Nicky Hayden Ducati 0 laps
Valentino Rossi Ducati 0 laps