Casey Stoner produced a measured performance to chalk up his first win of the season in the inaugural Aragon MotoGP this afternoon. The Australian Ducati rider got the better of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) in a first lap duel for the lead, before asserting his superiority at the front.
Spanish home hero Dani Pedrosa took up the chase, but could not get close enough to seriously challenge Stoner, who looked calm and assured at the head of the field despite crashing in the warm-up this morning.
Pedrosa survived a massive moment at Turn 1 on the first lap, which forced him to back out of the throttle to avoid a high-side and dropped him to fifth. Chasing a hat-trick of MotoGP wins, Pedrosa used the superior speed of his Honda machine to ease his way back though the field and by the end of the third lap he was up into second.
These two riders were the only ones able to lap consistently below 1m50s and Pedrosa got within 0.6sec of Stoner mid-way though the race, but the charge took the best from his tires and the Spaniard gave up the chase in the closing stages, eventually finishing five seconds adrift.
Stoner's Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden shadowed Lorenzo throughout the race, before beating his rival for the final podium spot by chucking it down the inside in the tight left hander leading onto the back straight on the final lap.
A similarly close fight between American Ben Spies (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Pedrosa's Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso was settled when Dovizioso crashed out on the final lap. The Italian's misfortune allowed multiple MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi to complete the top six. Rossi made a good start, but ran wide at the first turn and fell back as low as ninth in the early stages of the race, before fighting his way back to seventh, which became sixth when Dovizioso fell off.
Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda), Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki), Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda) and Aleix Espargaro (Pramac Ducati) rounded out the top 10.
Texan Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) endured a frustrating race in his 100th MotoGP start. He finished 12th.
Pos Rider Team Time/Gap
1. Casey Stoner Ducati 42m16.530s
2. Dani Pedrosa Honda + 5.148s
3. Nicky Hayden Ducati + 9.496s
4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha + 9.580s
5. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha + 13.771s
6. Valentino Rossi Yamaha + 27.330s
7. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda + 28.511s
8. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki + 35.254s
9. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda + 35.393s
10. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati + 35.467s
11. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati + 35.522s
12. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha + 45.360s
13. Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda + 48.319s
14. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati + 58.047s
Andrea Dovizioso Honda 22 laps
Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 15 laps