Casey Stoner continued his outstanding record in his home race at Phillip Island today, the factory Ducati rider producing a masterful display to win the Australian Grand Prix for the fourth year in a row.
Stoner, who celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday with the 25th pole position of his career, grabbed the holeshot and never came under any serious threat in front of a crowd of over 41,000 fans.
He was already a massive 1.503s clear of new world champion Jorge Lorenzo at the end of the first lap and continued to streak away with ease, his domination ruining hopes of a close and exciting 27-lap encounter.
Stoner’s third win in the last four races to continue his end of season revival also boosted his hopes of stealing second place from Dani Pedrosa in the points.
The Repsol Honda rider withdrew from the race after qualifying yesterday, the Spaniard’s injured left shoulder leaving him in too much pain to continue.
Stoner’s success means he’s now just 23-points behind the triple world champion with two races remaining in Estoril and Valencia.
With Stoner in complete control at the front, Fiat Yamaha rider Lorenzo had a somewhat boring and lonely ride to second place to mark his 50th premier class appearance.
He was over seconds behind Stoner with four laps remaining and over 11.5s clear of factory Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi at a cloudy and blustery Phillip Island.
One of the few interesting battles on track took place behind the Spaniard with Rossi locked in a close duel for the final rostrum spot with 2006 world champion Hayden.
Rossi had started eighth on the grid but by lap eighth he’d moved into third having overtaken Hayden, Ben Spies, Marco Simoncelli, Colin Edwards and luckless Andrea Dovizioso, who had to retire with a technical problem on his Repsol Honda.
Hayden had been content to follow nine-times world champion for most of the second half of the race until he decided to take the fight to the 31-year-old.
The Kentucky rider dived under Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1 machine at turn four on lap 25.
It came down to a thrilling final lap dice between the pair, who will be team-mates at Ducati in 2011, with Hayden defending superbly through the first three corners.
But Rossi didn’t wait long to make his crucial move, the Sepang winner passing Hayden’s factory Ducati GP10 at turn four.
Hayden couldn’t find a way back by Rossi as the Italian claimed his third successive podium. Rossi claimed third by just 0.038s with Hayden fourth for the fifth time in 2010.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Spies clinched the coveted Rookie of the Year title with fifth position, the Texan getting the better of a race long scrap with San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Simoncelli.
1 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Team Ducati
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha
3 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha
4 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati
5 Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
6 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda
7 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
8 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati
9 Marco MELANDRI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda
10 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda
11 Mika KALLIO FIN Pramac Racing Team Ducati
12 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki
13 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP Honda
14 Hector BARBERA SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati
Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 24 Laps