Casey Stoner ended Valentino Rossi's five-race run of MotoGP victories by winning his home Australian Grand Prix in dominant style, marking the Ducati Marlboro star's first win since the wet German GP in July.
On paper, Stoner's fifth victory of the season was a lights-to-flag affair, but the 2007 world champion was hounded by Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden
for the first ten laps around the stunning Phillip Island circuit.
The pair pulled quickly away from a furious fight for third in the process, with Stoner then breaking clear of his future team-mate to hold a two-second advantage by the halfway stage and a 6.5secs lead at the chequered flag - although the Australian's advantage peaked at 7.8secs before he began backing off.
Stoner is now 36 points clear of Dani Pedrosa
in the fight for second in the world championship standings with two rounds to go, after the Repsol Honda rider lowsided out of third place at turn two.
Valentino Rossi, who began the race just twelfth on the grid after a high-speed qualifying fall, was only up to ninth by the end of the opening lap - but fortunate to avoid Alex de Angelis, who highsided just in front of him on the entry to the downhill MG hairpin.
Thereafter, the 2008 MotoGP world champion worked his way steadily forwards, overtaking James Toseland
for third into turn one on lap eight. Toseland had robustly held onto third ever since Pedrosa's early exit, and wasn't going to give up without a fight - the Tech 3 rookie re-passing Rossi into turn one on the following lap.
Toseland, who celebrated his 28th birthday today, was enjoying the best race of his young MotoGP career - and it took Rossi a further three laps before he could attempt another pass, again into turn one, but this time Toseland sliced straight back under.
Toseland's previous Phillip Island race start ended in victory at the 2007 WSBK event and he kept his MotoGP podium dream alive until lap 13 of 28, when Rossi finally put his factory Yamaha decisively ahead.
A six-second gap separated Rossi and Hayden by that point but, although the #46 initially made only minor progress, Hayden's Michelin-shod RCV lost pace dramatically in the closing stages and Rossi snatched second position from the American into turn one at the start of the final lap.