By Stephen English

Valentino Rossi converted a front row start into his sixth podium of the 2013 MotoGP season at the shortened Australian MotoGP.

The race became a 19-lap dash with mandated pit stops at half distance because of severe tyre blistering due to the new, high grip, track surface at Philip Island.

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Rossi was delighted to have finished third after a stirring battle with Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista - the trio crossing the line covered by just 0.169s!

"I liked that race," said Rossi. "I'm happy because we managed to do good work in the pits and it's my first podium in a flag-to-flag race."

Changing bikes can be tricky for riders, but having struggled with handling problems on his first bike Rossi was glad to be able to jump on his second YZR-M1.

The Doctor then rode aggressively for the final nine laps as he fought with Crutchlow and Bautista.

"With the first bike I had problems with the rear, I had a big moment at the last corner, and lost two positions with Cal and Alvaro. At the change of bike I was able to overtake them another time. The second part of the race I enjoyed more because I was faster and I had a big battle with Cal on the last laps.

"On the last lap I pushed a lot with him and it started to rain, you see streaks on the visor but don't understand how much rain, but it was the last lap for the podium so I had to try for the maximum and it was OK.

"I'm so happy to be back on the podium at Philip Island because it's always a great atmosphere and for me I'm so proud. Now we have to continue to work and I look forward to Motegi next Sunday."

With Marc Marquez having missed the pit window and been disqualified by Race Direction it was interesting to hear how each rider knew when they were required to stop.

Asked how he had made his decision, Rossi admitted that accidentally stopped later than expected:

"In the race I decided to stop on the first lap available [lap 9] to have less confusion in the pits with Jorge. But on that lap I was battling with Bautista and I couldn't see the pit board.

"Then when I was exiting turn 11 I saw Bautista pull into the pits and I thought 'f**k!' So I stopped on the next lap!"