More on Stoner's 2nd-straight win in Australia
Casey Stoner produced a true World Champion’s performance to destroy the MotoGP field on his Ducati and win the 2008 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island for the second year in a row.
The Australian star, who will turn 23 in 11 days’ time, rocketed off his eighth pole position of the year to lead from first to last, his margin at the end of the 27 laps some six-and-a-half seconds from second-placed Valentino Rossi.
Rossi produced a stunning ride of his own to come from 12th on the grid, his worst-ever qualifying effort at the Island, to his 14th podium of 2008.
The Yamaha star caught Nicky Hayden’s Honda in Turn 1 on the final lap as the American claimed only his second top-three finish of the year in third to complete an all-World Champion Island podium.
The main incidents in the race came on the opening lap: Andrea Dovizioso ran wide on the grass in the opening few meters, Dani Pedrosa crashed out when his Honda ran wide into Turn 2, Aussie Chris Vermeulen's Suzuki stayed upright as it careered across the grass and Sylvain Guintoli also did well to stay in touch with his satellite Ducati as it too went off-track.
Hayden stayed in touch with Stoner – his teammate for 2009 – for the first half of the race but was broken by lap 13 when the Aussie took the gap from 1.7 seconds to 2.329 and started going away.
“Before the race I didn’t know what to expect,” said a jubilant Stoner. “A lot of people were going quick, and it was probably the most nervous I’ve been before a race for a long time. But I gave it my all, and managed to pull a gap in the middle of the race. It’s awesome to do it here again, two from two at Phillip Island – it’s brilliant to win in Australia.”
Behind the front three Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo came out on top of an epic four-man contest for fourth place ahead of Shinya Nakano on the satellite Honda, James Toseland's Tech3 Yamaha and Andrea Dovizioso, recovering superbly on his Honda after his early off.
Toseland had enlivened the early laps by refusing to let Rossi pass him without a fight but slipped back after the Yamaha got past and ran out of steam in the closing stages.
Australia’s Ant West beat Kawasaki teammate John Hopkins for 12th place in Westy’s third-last outing for the team, while Chris Vermeulen was playing catch-up from the opening lap and came home 15th.
Guintoli too recovered well to clock the fastest speed of 329.5 km/h while Hayden’s new-found form earned the Kentucky Kid a new Phillip Island lap record of 1:30.059 on lap 3.