Alvaro Bautista believes his Motegi podium is indicative of genuine progress at the satellite Gresini Honda camp.
The Spaniard, who re-signed with the team on the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix, has now claimed two podiums in the last three races. Having struggled mid-season, finishing outside the top six in four consecutive events, Bautista expressed his confidence that his team has markedly improved in recent weeks.
"I think our level is every time closer to the top, no?" he said. "I had good rhythm yesterday in practice and I knew we could challenge for the podium. I've improved my feeling on the bike and I would like to continue with this line."
Bautista was only assured of third when, on the final lap, Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow ran out of fuel.
The pair had previously been locked together in a fantastic scrap for third, sparked when Bautista first made his move five laps from the finish.
"From the outside it probably looked fun, but on the inside it was a fight," he said. "I didn't start so well but I could overtake the other riders and was behind Crutchlow, but I didn't want to stay too close because we had brake problems in the morning and needed to keep them cool.
"Five laps [from the end] I decided to go on the attack, got third and then we battled for some corners, which was fun. I got the podium, though and I'm so happy – and also so, so happy to re-sign with the team. I dedicate [the result] to everyone who supported me and to this fantastic team."