PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, OCT 17 - Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner continued his mastery of Phillip Island by running away with his fourth win in a row in front of a chilled crowd of over 41,000 of his fellow countrymen.Starting from the pole position, the Australian, who'd celebrated his 25th birthday a day earlier, jetted into the lead, never to be headed and never to be challenged.Stoner built up his lead at will and the only question mark was the size of the margin of victory. After 27 laps of the 2.76 circuit above the Bass Strait, Stoner won by 8.598 secs.So great is his mastery of Phillip Island, that in these four victories, he's led every lap but one, the first lap of last year's win."We're very happy with this weekend," Stoner said. "I was a little bit disappointed after the last race in Malaysia. We felt that we definitely had the pace to fight for a win there and we mucked it up on the first lap. So that was a bit disappointing. But these last four races have been fantastic for us to be so competitive again. It's been a hard season for us always having to settle for the last step of the podium. And normally it's an extreme fight for that and Valentino (Rossi) wasn't there for most of it. So it's been very nice for us to be able to come back to form and actually give these guys a run for their money in these last races, it's been fantastic."So to win here after such a great weekend, started off so well and just progressed after that. So it's very nice. We had a fair bit of pressure on for this one. After winning two in a row and then going for a third, no one seemed to really mind that we were trying to win my third one straight. But fourth one straight, everyone kind of expected it his weekend. So we definitely had a little bit of pressure from the public, but I'm glad we managed to get that win."The win was important not just for being at home, but for winning in general, he said."It's been so tough for us and just to be competitive again is the most important thing," he said. "To be winning races is just fantastic. It's the best way I can show everybody in Ducati and the world that I've never stopped trying all season. We just didn't have the right set-up working for us the rest of the season. we weren't just able to fight Jorge (Lorenzo) or Dani (Pedrosa) for the championship, but I think the way Jorge rode this season he was going to be champion no matter what."Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo had an equally lonely ride in second. The recently crowned world champion settled into second and watched his gaps grow, both front and rear.Lorenzo admitted he knew it was going to be a long day, "because Casey has won the fourth race here in a row, so I just tried my best and I ride best as I could and in some laps it seems the gap was getting close, but a little bit, just a little bit, then the next lap another more tenths for Casey. And in the middle of the race, I thought, OK, today's it's better not to take more risk and just finish second and be happy with this position."Third place went to Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), but it wasn't easy. Rossi was chased all the way by Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) after Rossi made an aggressive move on his future teammate on the seventh lap, taking San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli with him, as Ben Spies, an early third, fell back to sixth.Hayden re-passed Rossi on the penultimate lap in the Honda Hairpin, putting the nine-time world champion behind him. But Rossi was certain to come back. The move would come in the same Honda Hairpin on the final lap, with Rossi giving his rear tire a friendly nudge. On the drag run to the stripe Rossi prevailed by .038 secs."Yes was another good battle of the last lap with Nicky," Rossi said. "We try to become more friendly because we stay together for all the race. And was good, because I stay in front a lot of laps and I think I pull a little bit Nicky a way from Marco (Simoncelli) and (Ben) Spies. But at the end Nicky was strong and in some places also a little bit faster than me, so he attack me and I try to go and I have one moment where I think I cannot maybe arrive on the podium. But I make a good move on the last lap and arrive on the podium, so is a good result, because when you start from the third row arrive on the podium is good."I enjoy the race, but unfortunately I expect to be faster on the race. We're struggling too much during the practice for find a good balance of the bike. And I have to start behind. We have a good idea this morning, I can ride quite well this afternoon, but I'm not fast like I want, like last year, for example. I have some problem, so I have to fight to the end for arrive on the podium."Hayden was disappointed after coming so close to the podium. He said "the bike was really, really good though. I really enjoyed riding. It was working good. Not easy, I was pushing hard and to just get a chance to beat Valentino on the last lap is something that can be was very attainable today. And I didn't make it happen, so I'm pretty frustrated."I enjoyed the race a lot. I don't want to sound like a crybaby or nothing, because it was a good hard race and we went back and forth and enjoyed it all, but fourth place it's kinda hard to dress it up and put a real positive spin on it. Pretty frustrated really."Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Ben Spies was alone in fifth having shrugged off a challenge by San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli. The fifth place finish wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors for the Texan."Towards the end of the race I was running similar times to those ahead of me and that's all I can do," he said. "I'm happy to be Rookie of the Year too. I beat a lot of good guys for that and it will be an achievement I can be proud of at the end of the season. I've had some good results on this three-week stretch and I'm now looking forward to the last two rounds."Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards was a lonely seventh, well up on Aleix Espargaro (Pramac Ducati) Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini), the Italian who'd struggled in qualifying.“The pace I'd run all weekend was pretty much the pace I was able to run in the race," Edwards said. "Conditions changed so much over the weekend that we never really got enough time to work on findi ng a decent set-up. I was confident going into the race and got a decent start but pretty much from the second corner I was having some spinning from the rear tyre. I tried to adjust my riding style because I didn't want to lose contact with the group in front of me. I settled into a comfortable rhythm but I just couldn't go any faster."There were 15 starters and 14 finishers. Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso went out with a suspension issue early on. Couple with teammate Dani Pedrosa opting out of the race, it was the worst result of the season for the works Honda team. And it had championship implications.Stoner is now 23 points behind Pedrosa, 228 to 205, in the championship fight. Dovi is now fifth behind Rossi, who has 197.MotoGP Results:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

8. Marco Melandri (Honda)

9. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati)

10. Mika Kallio (Ducati)

MotoGP Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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