Stoner pulls a wheelie to celebrate his first win of the season at the new Spanish circuit [AFP]

Former world champion Casey Stoner held off home favourite Dani Pedrosa to win the Aragon MotoGP for his first victory of the season.

Honda rider Pedrosa recovered from a poor start and began to reel the Australian Ducati rider in during the middle stages of the race at the new Motorland circuit in Alcaniz to the north east of Madrid.

It came after riders from across the three top classes paid tribute to Japan's Shoya Tomizawa, who was killed during the Moto2 race in San Marino two weeks ago.

Members of his team placed his bike on the starting grid and a minute's silence was held for the 19-year-old, whose number 48 has been retired from the championship.

Stoner, who started from pole hin Spain on Sunday having recovered from a minor crash during the warmup, pulled away to win by a comfortable margin of more than five seconds.

Pipped

The 2007 champion's teammate Nicky Hayden of the United States pipped championship leader Jorge Lorenzo for third, just over nine seconds off the pace, after overtaking the Spaniard on an exciting final lap.

With five races remaining and 25 points awarded for a win, Pedrosa is the only rider who can catch Lorenzo in the overall standings.

The Yamaha rider leads his compatriot by 56 points and Stoner is 129 points back in third.

"It was a difficult race today and I was very nervous for the first few laps after the crash this morning," Stoner told Spanish television.

"I was lucky not to make too big a mistake and tried to put in some smooth, consitent laps and pull away for the win."

Current world champion Valentino Rossi, who is struggling with a shoulder injury, finished sixth.

Andrea Iannone of Italy won the Moto2 race and Spaniard Pol Espargaro was victorious in the 125cc category.

Tomizawa had won the first Moto2 race in Qatar in April after it replaced the 250cc category this season.

Source: Reuters