Andrea Dovizioso hopes he can take another step forward in the next grand prix at Catalunya after scoring his first podium finish of the year with second at Le Mans.
The Italian has often been behind his Honda teammates Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa this year, but in France he was able to beat the latter to the outside front row slot and then finished second in the race - albeit after Pedrosa retired in a clash with Marco Simoncelli.
Dovizioso admitted that he was thinking the podium would be out of reach as Stoner, Pedrosa and Simoncelli edged away.
"I'm so happy about the podium," said Dovizioso. "I didn't expect it in the middle of the race because the first three riders were faster than us.
"We still need to work more because this is not enough, but this is the championship and it's important to get points and always improve. I think in Barcelona we can be better."
He spent the final laps in a tough battle with Valentino Rossi before beating the Ducati to secure second.
"It's not so easy to fight with Vale because under braking he's so strong, but we changed the setup a little bit and I was strong on the brakes," Dovizioso said. "I knew at the last two corners Valentino was better than me, so I tried to get a gap for the last two corners and I beat him. It's always nice to finish the race in a fight – and to win the fight."