Jorge Lorenzo is once again the world champion of Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
Dani Pedrosa came to Australia for the penultimate round of the 2012 MotoGP season only 23 points—less than the 25 points awarded to a race winner—behind Lorenzo in the championship standings.
For the championship to come down to the final round would take a mistake from Lorenzo.
Instead, it was Pedrosa who faltered.
After Australian Casey Stoner announced he would retire at the end of the season and then again when he broke his ankle in a horrific high-side crash at Indianapolis, everyone circled the Phillip Island round on their calendars.
Stoner had won his home GP for the last five years in succession, and there would be no better swan song for him than if he were able to do it for a sixth and final time.
Dani Pedrosa knew this and knew that Stoner would be charging hard from behind him after he took the lead from Lorenzo on the first lap of the race.
Phillip Island is a predominantly left-hand circuit with only four right-handers throughout its sinuous length.
As such, the bikes spend so little time on the right sides of the tires that when they do go into a right-hander, especially early in the race, the right side of the tires can be so cold that they can break free and send a rider down.
That is exactly what happened to Dani Pedrosa—exacerbated by the intense pursuit of Casey Stoner, which caused him to carry too much speed into the fateful hairpin corner. The front end tucked away from him mid-corner, sending him and his bike spinning down to the pavement and with them his championship hopes for 2012.
In the end, Stoner thrilled the Aussie fans by taking the checkered flag, putting an exclamation point on a weekend he dominated from the start of the first practice session through to the end of the race.
Cal Crutchlow rounded out the podium with his second third-place finish this year. He rode brilliantly, finishing 10 seconds ahead of teammate and fourth-place finisher Andrea Dovizioso.
But Jorge Lorenzo was the man of the hour. For the second time in three years, he is the world champion.
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