(CNN) -- Italian legend Valentino Rossi clinched his sixth MotoGP world title with a thrilling victory in Japan on Sunday.
Rossi was getting his hands on the world title for the first time since 2005.
Rossi, riding a Yamaha, went clear of his arch-rival and defending champion Casey Stoner with 11 laps to go at the Motegi circuit to win by nearly two seconds from the Australian.
Spain's Dani Pedrosa was third with compatriot Jorge Lorenzo, who started from pole position, in fourth place.
But all the attention focused on the remarkable Rossi, who was claiming his eighth victory of the season and his fifth straight since he took the United States Grand Prix in July.
It left him needing just a podium finish to reclaim the title he last won in 2005.
"It's difficult to compare the titles," Rossi told Associated Press. "This one is great because we really battled here. There have been a lot titles in my career but maybe this is the one that required the most effort."
American Nicky Hayden pipped Rossi to the title in the last race of the 2006 season while Stoner dominated in 2007. With three races left in the season, Rossi has 312 points, 92 ahead of Stoner.
Sunday's race quickly became a contest between Stoner and Rossi as the two riders opened up a comfortable lead ahead of the pack.
"I felt good at the start of the race," said Stoner, who wrapped up his 2007 triumph with a sixth-place finish at Motegi last year.
"I needed a few laps to warm up the tires, then I got a little tired changing the direction of the bike and Valentino came forward."
Rossi is now closing fast on the all-time record of eight world titles held by compatriot Giacomo Agostini. He pulls clear of Australian Mick Doohan who had also won five titles.
Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.