Casey Stoner returned to the top step of the podium with a runaway fifth victory of the season in front of his home fans at Phillip Island on Sunday - an event that marked Ducati's 100th MotoGP race.

Stoner's first victory since July's German GP was a lights to flag win from pole position, with only future team-mate Nicky Hayden able to give chase before eventually relenting at the halfway stage.

Casey eventually won his second home race in a row by 6.5secs from newly crowned 2008 world champion Valentino Rossi.

"This weekend has been a bit like the whole season - up and down!" smiled Stoner, who fell on Saturday morning. "Thankfully it's finished on a high and it's a great feeling to win my home grand prix in front of all these wonderful fans, with my family here too.

"That's largely down to the hard work of my team because we've had some issues with the bike here but today it felt great and I was able to push hard from the first lap.

"Sometimes at this track you can have the best pace but still get dragged into a battle but I was able to get away, even though Nicky chased me hard for a long time before eventually dropping off and giving me some breathing space.

"It's been a great year for me and even though we haven't won the title I feel proud of our achievements," said Stoner, now 36 points clear of Dani Pedrosa in the fight for second in the standings. "If we can battle for the championship again next year that would be great but for now I'm just going to enjoy winning my home GP."

Since joining MotoGP in 2003, Ducati has claimed 58 podiums, 23 victories and 22 pole positions from its 100 races - plus the 2007 riders', constructors' and teams' titles.

Despite making just 34 race starts for Ducati, Stoner has played a huge part in the factory's success, claiming 24 of the podiums, 15 of the race wins and 13 of the pole positions - as well as the riders' world championship.

"Casey was fantastic and he truly deserved to win here at Phillip Island," said Ducati MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo. "Today's victory is really very special and comes after a few difficult races for him. I am very happy that he has been successful here of all places, in front of his fans. And it is also the best way for us to celebrate our one hundredth race in MotoGP.

"Since the podium in the first race in Suzuka up to today, we have experienced unforgettable moments and difficult days, but we still have the same enthusiasm and have always demonstrated to be a united team. Thanks to everyone in Ducati Corse who in these past six years have worked hard both at the track and back at the factory to make all of this possible."

Stoner's outgoing team-mate Marco Melandri finished 16th and last.

"It has been a really difficult weekend for us," confessed the Italian. "Unfortunately we've never been able to find the right setting for the bike and some really strange crashes have set us back even more. The one from this morning left me in some pain and this made things even more complicated."



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