Melbourne: Ducati`s Casey Stoner delighted his home fans by winning a fourth consecutive Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Sunday.
Stoner, who secured pole position on his 25th birthday a day earlier, completed the 27-lap race in 41 minutes 9.128 seconds, more than eight seconds ahead of newly crowned world champion Jorge Lorenzo of Spain on a gusty day at the 4.45km circuit.
Seven-time premier class champion Valentino Rossi finished third after battling back from eighth on the grid, snatching the podium spot from Ducati rider and future team mate Nicky Hayden of the United States on the final lap.
The 2007 world champion Stoner roared off the grid to open a 1.5 second gap from Lorenzo`s Yamaha after the first lap and was never threatened thereafter as brilliant sunshine dried out the scenic track that had earlier been doused with showers.
With Lorenzo also enjoying a luxury of space in second place, the race`s drama was relegated to a battle for third between Italian Rossi and Hayden.
After snapping at Rossi`s heels for most of the race, Hayden nosed in front at the circuit`s Honda hairpin with less than three laps remaining.
Rossi regained track position in an aggressive move at the same turn on the final lap, then held on for the podium spot that left Hayden looking far from happy in the pitlane after the race.
The win was Stoner`s third of the season and continues his late revival after victories at Aragon and Motegi over the past month.
The Australian moved to third in the championship standings behind second-placed Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, who withdrew from the race after qualifying, due to discomfort with the collarbone he broke during the Japan round.
Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi also withdrew citing a groin injury sustained from a qualifying crash.