Andrea Dovizioso believes he has totally turned his form around over the winter, having taken his second podium finish from the first three rounds of 2010 at Le Mans today.
Although the Italian took his first MotoGP win at Donington Park last summer, he was rarely on the pace of Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa in his first year at the works squad.
Despite continuing to struggle for qualifying speed in 2010, Dovizioso's strong race performances have seen him take two third places already this year, including at Le Mans today, where he came through from seventh on the grid to hunt down Pedrosa and snatch third from him on the final lap. That result makes him 'best of the rest' behind the Yamaha riders in the championship after three rounds.
"It's a perfect start," said Dovizioso. "We made a really good, big improvement compared to last year. At the end of last year we were really, really slow. I completely lost the feeling with the bike. We changed a lot during the winter and we've improved -- clearly not enough, because we didn't fight for the victory, but we are closer and closer."
He added that it was particularly satisfying to beat Pedrosa at Le Mans because the Spaniard had done the same to him in last year's race.
"Last year Dani caught me by 10 seconds during the race and overtook me on the last lap, so I needed this," said Dovizioso. "I'm so happy to go to Mugello in third position in the championship, in front of Dani, that's really important.
"Everybody knows that Dani has really good acceleration, so it was so difficult to be in a perfect position on the brakes to overtake him. He made the line to block me, so it was really difficult, especially because Nicky [Hayden] was really close."