Marco Simoncelli claimed his second MotoGP podium, and best ever premier-class finish, with second place in Sunday's showery Australian MotoGP.

Though Casey Stoner's home victory was never in doubt, the other podium positions were closely contested.

By the fourth of 27 laps, Honda riders held the top four spots and began an inter-family battle that would go down to the final lap. San Carlo's Simoncelli held second for much of the race, but lost out to Repsol's Andrea Dovizioso when a rain shower arrived in the final laps.

When the shower passed, Simoncelli re-asserted himself to snatch second back from Dovizioso on the very final lap. Dovi was just 0.244s behind, while team-mate Dani Pedrosa - also in podium contention earlier in the race - dropped off the pace at the end to finish fourth.

The Simoncelli/Dovizioso battle had special interest, since the Italians have fought repeatedly on track this season and, while Simoncelli has re-signed with Honda for 2012, Dovizioso will be leaving to join Tech 3 Yamaha.

Of the five times the pair have finished next to each other on race day this season, the balance has now been tipped in Simoncelli's favour by 3 races to 2.

However, in overall races they have both finished, Dovizioso is ahead 8 times to 3, plus has more podiums (six) and is higher in the standings (third, compared with sixth).

"I am delighted!" said Simoncelli. "It was a really tough race with changeable conditions throughout and every time I saw raindrops on my visor I was unsure whether I could push or not.

"I managed to put a little gap on Dovizioso and Pedrosa, but when the rain came Dovizioso was able to catch me and make a pass. I managed to stay with him and follow his lines so when the track was dry again on the last lap I was able to throw everything at him and make the pass.

"I had been second for the whole race and I didn't want to give up on it until the end. It was nice to finish directly behind the new world champion."

Dovizioso preferred to focus on the championship, having extended his advantage over Pedrosa to four points with two rounds remaining.

"To return on the podium and arrive in front of Dani here at Phillip Island is a very good result for us and it was our target before getting here. I think we could have even finished in second position, but when Dani overtook me in the middle of the race we lost contact with Simoncelli. Then I retook the position when the rain came, but on the final lap I didn't have enough grip to push hard in the last few corners.

"Anyway, we are still fighting for the third place in the championship and I'm sure Dani will be strong in the last two races, but we will try to do our best until the end. Casey has had an amazing season, he is the fastest rider at the moment, so congratulations to him for the title."

Pedrosa had suffered front tyre problems, taking away his corner entry speed and forcing him to abandon the podium fight.

"It's been very tough today, I didn't feel comfortable throughout the weekend and the race didn't start in the best way either," said the Spaniard. "I had a problem with the wind at the start; I almost lost balance and I had to put the left foot on the ground at the same time as the red light went out, so I had a bad start.

"The first few laps were not so good, then I recovered slightly, I overtook Andrea and fought with him, but the front tyre was finished in the last laps. When I tried to pull away I was losing the front, so I couldn't keep him behind and then the rain arrived. It's not been a good weekend for me.

"I want to say congratulations to Casey for his title. He's been the strongest this season, always on the podium, with no mistakes, so he deserves it."


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