In a show of skill, grit and sheer determination, Valentino Rossi rode to a nail-biting finish in Sunday’s Philip Island GP to take his eighth win of the season – and along with it – his sixth world championship.

In a show of skill, grit and sheer determination, Valentino Rossi rode to a nail-biting finish in Sunday’s Philip Island GP to take his eighth win of the season – and along with it – his sixth world championship.

In the season’s penultimate race, Rossi completed an amazing first year with the Yamaha factory team following his controversial switch from Honda at the end of last season. His win in the Australian Grand Prix secured the Japanese team its first championship title since 1992. The Italian also became only the second rider in MotoGP history to win back-to-back championships with different manufacturers.

Loris Capirossi took the lead off the line before being upstaged by Gibernau in a bold move. However, as the Honda rider led the pack with Rossi on his tail, support from the rest of the field was lacking and he had a difficult task keeping Rossi away from the top two positions needed to secure the championship.

As Capirossi, Troy Bayliss, Colin Edwards and Alex Barros jostled for positions, Gibernau rode strongly before conceding the lead on lap nineteen, only to reclaim it five laps from the finish.

He maintained his slender lead until the final lap when Rossi pushed hard in the final two corners of the circuit to cross the line 0,097 seconds ahead of the Spaniard.

Customary celebrations then ensued with Rossi being bombarded by his fan club waiting with a white t-shirt and helmet.

"Today was a fantastic finish to a fantastic championship,” The Doctor said. “This track is great and today there was a hard battle until the last lap. In some parts I was faster than Gibernau and some other places slower.

“I was sure of my feeling on the bike, though. I made a bit of a bad start but wanted to stick with Sete. The last lap was a lot of fun for everybody watching it. I want to say thanks to everyone who has worked so hard, to Yamaha and all my team. I think this year has been my best championship winning year."

Gibernau said: "We tried our best but we had some trouble with the engine delivery. We had a good race but I think it could have been better if we'd not had engine problems."

Meanwhile, 10 seconds behind, Capirossi took his first podium finish of the season after a thrilling fight between himself, Edwards, Barros, Nicky Hayden, Max Biaggi and Makoto Tamada. Just two seconds separated the six riders at the flag.

Local hero Troy Bayliss started strongly and was as high as fourth in the early laps but gradually dropped to ninth place by the end of the race.

Carlos Checa, Ruben Xaus, Shinya Nakano, Alex Hofmann, Jeremy McWilliams and John Hopkins completed the points.