Ducati rider Casey Stoner took his third-successive Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix with a lights-to-flag win at Phillip Island last weekend.
In front of a healthy Island crowd of nearly 51,000, Stoner put his illness-ridden season behind him with another win in front of his adoring home crowd, beating Yamaha’s championship leader Valentino Rossi.
Honda rider Dani Pedrosa finished a distant third after crashing in qualifying, while Alex de Angelis’ fine weekend was completed with fourth-place.
In what was a spectacular start to the race when Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo clipped the back of Nicky Hayden’s Ducati and careered out of control at the first turn, ending up in the gravel trap and unable to continue the race.
Stoner and Rossi immediately set the tone for the race, skipping out to a healthy lead. In the dying stages, Rossi offered a small threat to Stoner’s lead, but with his strong championship lead firmly in mind, he remained in second place.
While Stoner continued his reign at the Island, fellow Australian Chris Vermeulen struggled in his last ride in MotoGP on home soil.
The Queensland Suzuki rider, bound for the World Superbike Championship in 2010, finished 11th. The only consilation is that he finished ahead of his team-mate Loris Capirossi (Suzuki).
Casey Stoner – first place
“To do three from three here is a very nice way to end the year for me,” he said.
“We struggled all weekend with rear grip and were trying to get the bike hooked up a little bit better out of turns, but I think everybody was suffering from similar problems. So we did the best we could for the race, and the bike was working pretty well.”
Valentino Rossi – second place
“I tried to win, for sure,” Rossi said.
“It was a great race. One of the most funniest and important second places of my career. I tried to stay with him and I put a lot of effort in but I was always trying not to make any mistake.”
Dani Pedrosa – third place
“All the weekend we were doing well, but I think we were not as strong as we thought for the race because after yesterday’s crash we lost a lot of time,” Pedrosa said.
“I’m happy after the crash to be on the podium, but of course we will try to improve and be faster for the next race.”