Australia’s Casey Stoner led from start to finish to win the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi on Sunday.

Stoner, riding a Ducati, started from pole position and held off Yamaha’s Rossi to win his home GP for the third straight year. Spain’s Dani Pedrosa was third on a Honda, 22.618 seconds behind Rossi, the world championship leader.

Stoner, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday, was making just his second start after a three-race break from the MotoGP circuit caused by a debilitating illness. He finished second on his comeback at the Oct. 4 Portuguese GP.

After capturing his second straight pole position at the Phillip Island circuit, Stoner was able to dominate Rossi to win his third race of the season.

Rossi’s second placing allowed him to stretch his lead in the world championship to 38 points over his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, who crashed out of the race on turn one.

Pedrosa secured his first podium finish in the Australian GP MotoGP class, while Alex de Angelis was fourth and American Colin Edwards on a Yamaha was fifth.

Two rounds of the world championship remain — at Malaysia and Valencia — with Rossi on course to claim his seventh world championship.

Italian Marco Simoncelli, riding a Gilera, won Sunday’s 250cc race. Hector Barbera of Spain was second and Raffaele de Rosa was third.

Spaniard Julian Simon clinched the 125cc world championship when he passed British Aprilia team-mate Bradley Smith on the final lap to win by .313 of a second. His victory gave him an unassailable 55.5 point lead over Smith with two championship rounds remaining.

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