Italian motorcyclist Valentino Rossi won his third straight Moto GP world championship Sunday and the fifth of his career with a solid performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The two-time defending champion finished the 21-lap race at the Sepang circuit in 43 minutes, 41.457 seconds, more than two seconds in front of Spain's Sete Gibernau, the only rider to come into the race with a chance of beating Rossi for the title. Italy's Max Biaggi was third in 43:49.101.

The 24-year-old Rossi did not need to beat Gibernau to win the title. All he needed was second place, or worse if Gibernau performed badly, to secure an overall points lead of 50 or more that would be unassailable with only two races left this year.

In other races Sunday, Spanish teenager Daniel Pedrosa won his first world championship in the 125-cc class while Spain's Toni Elias won the 250-cc division.