Stoner storms to Spanish win
Reigning world champion Casey Stoner eased doubts over his endurance levels with an assured victory at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
After being denied victory at the season-opener at Qatar three weeks ago due to a muscular problem in his arm, Stoner showed he has the stamina to go the distance as he powered through from fifth on the grid to take victory for Repsol Honda.
Qatar winner Jorge Lorenzo was second for Yamaha to preserve his championship lead, while Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa took third place.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow set the fastest lap on his way to an impressive fourth, finishing right in the wheel tracks of Pedrosa and well clear of Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, in fifth.
Stoner revealed afterwards that the condition that affected him at the first race, known as arm pump, did briefly rear its head, but he was able to ride through the discomfort for his first ever victory in Spain.
"The tyres were spinning up a bit in the closing laps but it was not a big problem - it was my arms again," Stoner told BBC Sport.
"Conditions were tricky and that was probably the greatest race I've ever done.
"I made a terrible start and got boxed in but somehow fought through to take the lead.
"Then I felt the arm pump coming in and thought 'oh no'. So I just gave it everything and when I saw two laps to go it suddenly felt better. It must be adrenaline."
Pedrosa made a clean getaway at the start to lead from pole-sitter Lorenzo on lap one, while behind the action was intense with the Ducati of Nicky Hayden, who started third, trading places with the Tech 3 Yamahas and Stoner.
Australian Stoner settled into his stride and soon passed Lorenzo for second before easing past Pedrosa to take a lead that he would not relinquish.
The gap between Stoner and Pedrosa stayed roughly between one and two seconds, but with both men struggling with tyre wear, neither could put their mind to going on the attack.
Behind the front two, battle raged between Pedrosa and Crutchlow, but the Spaniard just had enough to see off the Briton by four tenths of a second at the flag - while both men finished less than three seconds behind Stoner.
"That was a seriously hard race but I really enjoyed it and I am really happy to have finished so close to the podium," said Crutchlow, who also finished fourth in the opening race in Qatar.
"One of the pleasing aspects is that I don't really like Jerez that much. It's a little bit twisty for my riding style and it is only the second time I have raced here, so to come away with a fourth and been within touching distance of my first MotoGP podium is fantastic.
"I was fourth in Qatar but today I could actually see the winner and there is no reason why I can't be up there battling for the podium from now on."
Elsewhere, Alvaro Bautista was sixth for Gresini Honda ahead of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl. Hayden's early promise faded as he finished in eighth, six seconds clear of struggling team-mate Valentino Rossi, while Pramac Racing's Hector Barbera completed the top 10.