For the second time in three races Valentino Rossi was involved in a thrilling battle for third place in the closing stages of a MotoGP race.

Again it involved some close moves and again it was against a team-mate. Well, a 2011 team-mate this time - Ducati's Nicky Hayden.

Recovering from a his second bad start in a row, which meant he lost a place from eighth on the grid, Rossi had brushed shoulder's with the American on his way past early in Sunday's Australian Grand prix

At the time the pair were fighting for fifth, but they had both moved past Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies by lap 9 of 27.

Rossi and Hayden then pulled away from the rookies and as the race went on momentum seemed to switch back to Hayden, who was looking ever more threatening in Rossi's wheel tracks.

Hayden made his move on lap 25, passing Rossi into the Honda Hairpin.

But Rossi stuck with the 2006 world champion and launched a tight block-pass at the very same corner on the last lap.

It worked and Rossi snatched third, building his run of successive Phillip Island podiums to 13.

But most importantly, the fans got to see some racing near the front of the field.

First and second places, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, were unchanged from lap 1 to the chequered flag.

Home winner Stoner finished over eight seconds ahead of Lorenzo, who was in turn almost ten seconds in front of Rossi and Hayden.

"Today Casey was riding in a different sport and I want to say congratulations to him - the podium was the maximum for us but it was still a hard fight to get there," said Rossi.

"I had great fun with Nicky at the end because in some places he was faster than me and I really had to push, but the podium here is so important for me and I couldn't give it up easily.

"This is my 13th podium in 14 years racing at Phillip Island and I am very proud of this record. We have had three podiums in a row, including one win, and after this difficult season I am happy about this."

Hayden was left with the bitter taste of a last lap podium loss for the second time this season - Ben Spies passing him for third at Silverstone.

But unlike Lorenzo at Motegi, the former dirt tracker had no complaints about Rossi's overtaking.

"It was a good, hard battle in the sunshine and I am very disappointed to have lost," he said. "It would have been a lot cooler if it was for the win but fighting with Valentino Rossi for any position is never easy.

"I don't want to make excuses or be a cry baby and say 'maybe if I did this or that it would be different' because the bottom line is I got fourth, I got beaten.

"I feel down because this is a track I love, I felt good and to beat Rossi on the last lap would have been really good for me but I can't dress it up. I feel like I let the team down today because they gave me the bike to do the job but I didn't get it done."

Hayden, who holds the Phillip Island lap record from 2008, has finished in fourth place five-times this season.

Hayden's only podium of the year came after he made a last lap pass on Lorenzo at Aragon.