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Home favourite Stoner wins Aussie GP, Rossi moves closer to title

Casey Stoner (Ducati) roared to victory at the Australian Grand Prix, claiming a third win on his home circuit. A close second, Italy's Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) moved one step closer to retaining the title.

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AFP - Australian Casey Stoner held off world champion Valentino Rossi to win a hattrick of Australian MotoGPs here on Sunday.

The 2007 world champion, riding a Ducati, led for all but one lap of the 27-lap GP to claim victory by 1.935 seconds from championship leader Rossi on a Fiat Yamaha.

Stoner moved into third place on the championship standings ahead of Dani Pedrosa after the Spaniard finished a well-beaten third, some 22 seconds behind.

Stoner had the speed to fight off challenges from Rossi throughout the race and pulled away over the final laps to register his 19th career MotoGP triumph.

Stoner, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday, completed the 120.096 kilometre (74.5 mile) race in a time of 40 minutes 56.651 seconds.

Rossi virtually sealed the world championship by stretching his lead to 38 points over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who came off at the first bend and failed to finish and missed out on the points.

Italian Alex de Angelis was fourth on a Honda with American Colin Edwards fifth on his Yamaha.

The next and second-last MotoGP of the season will be held in Sepang, Malaysia, next weekend.

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