Valentino Rossi is on the brink of taking his sixth MotoGP World Championship, with his first chance of confirming the crown coming next weekend at Twin Ring Motegi. The Fiat Yamaha rider is in a powerful position in at the head of the standings, with an 87 point lead over 2007 titlist Casey Stoner and a further seven point lead over third-placed Dani Pedrosa. Rossi has the situation in his hands, with a podium finish assuring him of the title - even if Stoner records a first Japanese win.
A rostrum for Stoner could effectively be a stay of execution for the Ducati rider, who at best could reduce the gap to 62 points with 75 still up for grabs, if Rossi fails to score a point. A runner-up finish for the Australian would mean that Rossi could afford to finish as low as eighth, whilst rounding off the podium would require Rossi to finish twelfth or better. Stoner taking fourth place would mean that just a point would give the Italian his sixth title.
Pedrosa will only become involved should he win or finish runner up; a Pedrosa win obliges Rossi to finish in the top ten, whilst second place leaves the Yamaha rider in need of a solitary point.
The rider who at Indianapolis beat Giacomo Agostini´s record of victories with his 69th triumph, Rossi will echo his Italian idol this year if he regains the title. Agostini is the only rider to date to have reclaimed the crown after a two year gap.
And the bragging rights that will come with a sixth title? Rossi will have exceeded the total number of premier class titles taken by Mick Doohan, and become the only rider ever to win the World Championship on 500cc, 990cc and 800cc machines.