Valentino Rossi says his ride to seventh in the Catalunya Grand Prix represents his best performance for Ducati in dry conditions.
The Italian remained within nine seconds of the race's lead battle until the closing stages, when he began to struggle with a degrading rear tire.
While he has finished higher this year – scoring a podium at Le Mans in wet conditions that seem to favor the GP12 – he says that reduced gap to the front is evidence Ducati is improving, even if it still has work to do.
"We are quite happy about the result because it wasn't expected. The distance from the top was not a lot, and the distance from [Alvaro] Bautista, [Cal] Crutchlow and [Casey] Stoner was not very far, so this was our best race in the dry," he said. "At this moment this is our potential in the dry. The setting was not so bad: the braking, the speed on the straight and the electronic management were OK.
"After some laps I understand that Crutchlow, Stoner and [Andrea] Dovizioso were not so far [away], but I was already happy to be fighting with Bautista."
Rossi did however caution that Ducati could not allow itself to be satisfied with seventh, and needed to continue its development of the GP12.
"It is just a seventh place so we have to work a lot, we have to try to improve. We have to learn, and while we are on the right way it is not enough," he insisted. "The electronic management is positive but we need to use it more to get it to 100 percent. Tomorrow [in the test at Catalunya] we will try the swing arm again with more time, and I think that can help.
"The problem remains the understeer of the bike and the grip on the front - it doesn't take enough corner so I have to also turn with the rear, with oversteer, so I use more tire than anyone else.
"At one moment, I thought I could attack Bautista but unfortunately there was no way. For the podium I think is difficult, so from tomorrow we will try to improve."