Casey Stoner’s authoritative reign at his home track of Phillip Island continued in style on Sunday as the Ducati rider won at the circuit for the fourth year in a row.
Starting from pole position the 25 year-old led the Iveco Australian Grand Prix from start to finish as he made it a third win of 2010 in front of a partisan crowd of 41,537.
Eventually crossing the finish line 8.598s ahead of 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo it was the perfect end to a strong weekend from Stoner, who had demonstrated his pace throughout the practice and qualifying sessions, which had been run in mixed conditions.
However with bright sunshine providing ideal conditions for the race itself, Stoner had taken an advantage of over a second by the end of the first lap, winning comfortably and admitting, “This feels really nice. I think when I won two in a row here nobody expected me to make it three but having done that I felt there was a lot of expectation on me today. Everything has gone well for us, we have been happy with the bike from the first practice and the support from the fans has been fantastic. I have to admit that before the race I was feeling the pressure, I was more nervous than I normally am but maybe I should be like that more often because I didn’t make a single mistake! I am really happy with the way I rode today but every single person in the team has done a great job this weekend so my thanks go to them and I hope we can keep it going to the end of the season.”
Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) rode a lonely race in second position as he finished almost ten seconds ahead of third-placed Valentino Rossi. For the Spaniard it was a 14th podium finish in his title-winning campaign in what was his 50th premier class start.
The fight for third place went right down to the final lap as Fiat Yamaha man Rossi edged out Nicky Hayden in what was a fantastically close battle. The Ducati rider appeared to have got one over on his future team-mate with three laps to go when he overtook at Honda Hairpin, but Rossi returned the move at the same place on the final lap to beat the American to the final podium spot by a margin of just 0.038s.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies achieved his eighth top-five finish of his maiden MotoGP campaign and with it secured Rookie of the Year, with fellow premier class debutant Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) just under three seconds further back in sixth position.
There were top-ten finishes also for Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing), Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda). Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) was the only rider who failed to finish the race after he experienced technical problems early on.
Absent due to injuries were Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) – who rode in qualifying but opted not to race as he continues his recovery from a broken collarbone – and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), who sustained a groin injury in a qualifying session crash. The pair both expect to be fit to return at Estoril in a fortnight.
The result lifted Stoner into third in the Championship standings ahead of Rossi, and with the Italian and his Spanish team-mate’s podium finishes Fiat Yamaha also secured Fiat Yamaha the Team Championship for 2010 with two rounds remaining.