Andrea Dovizioso says he needs to take another step forward before he can fight for his first MotoGP victories.
The Honda rider led his home race at Mugello yesterday, having joined the leaders in the wet early stages and then jumped right to the front when he changed to slicks one lap before his nearest rivals. But as the track dried he was unable to hold off the Yamahas and Casey Stoner, and fell back to fourth.
Although he came close to reclaiming third from Valentino Rossi, Dovizioso said the result showed that he is not right up with the frontrunners in normal conditions yet.
"We are getting closer, but still not close enough to win," he said. "We need to keep on working because we are still not as competitive as the fastest riders, especially in dry conditions. We'll use this result to give us an extra boost of motivation."
While admitting that he still needs to make further progress, Dovizioso said he was delighted with how competitive he had been at Mugello.
"The sensation of leading the race in front of my home crowd was incredible and I think overall we had a good race, he said.
"I'm satisfied. I fought like hell to take third and we were so close - only 53 thousandths from the podium! I think our race strategy was good, we changed the bike at the right moment and I pushed as hard as possible to maintain my position.
"With three laps to go I tried to keep in contact with the others and when Rossi overtook me, I managed to stay with him. Then I tried to slipstream him out of the last corner but I couldn't make it. Anyway, all in all it was an exciting race and a positive result."