Yamaha rider Lorenzo, left, took the lead at the start, but was unable to hold off Stoner's Honda [AFP]

Casey Stoner notched up his third win of the season at the Catalunya Grand Prix on Sunday, closing the gap on championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.

The 2007 world champion overtook Lorenzo on the first lap and never looked back with the Australian's Honda proving too fast to catch on the 2.9 mile Barcelona circuit.

Spaniard Lorenzo came in second ahead of Yamaha team mate Ben Spies of the United States.

Italian Marco Simoncelli, who had started on pole, was sixth behind compatriots Andrea Dovizioso (fourth) and Valentino Rossi (fifth).

"Jorge got off to a good start and I had to wait until the end of the first lap to overtake him and then he couldn't stay with me, fortunately,'' said Stoner, who won in 43 minutes, 19.779 seconds.

"I knew Casey was going to have a fast start and I tried to keep up with him'', said Lorenzo.

"But we earned 20 points.''

After five races, defending champion Lorenzo holds a seven-point lead over Stoner.

Pole

Final placings

1 C Stoner (AUS) Honda 43: 19.779
2 J Lorenzo (ESP) Yamaha 43:22.182
3 B Spies (USA) Yamaha 43:24.070
4 A Dovizioso (ITA) Honda 43:25.034
5 V Rossi (ITA) Ducati 43:27.150
6 M Simoncelli (ITA) Honda 43:31.610
7 C Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 43:46.262
8 N Hayden (USA) Ducati 43:53.022
9 L Capirossi (ITA) Ducati 44:02.871
10 K Abraham (CZE) Ducati 44:02.892
11 H Barbera (ESP) Ducati 44:04.003
12 A Bautista (ESP) Suzuki 44:05.018
13 T Elias (ESP) Honda 44:18.047

Honda rider Marco Simoncelli, who had to employ bodyguards after receiving threats from fans angered by his role in a collision which left Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa injured last week in France, started from pole position.

However the Italian never got the start he hoped for, with Lorenzo pushing past second-placed Stoner to take the lead from the outset.

His advantage was to be all too brief, lasting only one lap as Stoner - currently considered the fastest man in the category - took command in convincing fashion.

Lorenzo battled to keep pace with his Australian rival in the opening laps but was given a reminder of the task ahead when Stoner clocked a fastest time on lap five to push the Spaniard a significant three tenths of a second further back.

Spies meanwhile was having his best race of the season, the American managing to hold on to third place from the first lap to the last.

The white flags indicating the presence of humid and potentially dangerous sections on the circuit came out at the halfway mark, however they failed to disrupt proceedings as the track steadily dried.

World champion Lorenzo tops the riders' standings with 98 points from five races, seven ahead of Stoner who also won in Qatar and France.

Dovizioso climbed up to third with 63 points, two ahead of Dani Pedrosa who missed the race with a broken collarbone.

Source: Agencies