Ducati star Casey Stoner was downbeat following his fourth-place finish in Sunday's fourth round of the MotoGP season at Mugello.
Stoner had hoped to keep up with pacesetters Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) following his front-row starting position, but he had to work hard to beat the private Hondas of Marco Melandri and Randy de Puniet to finish fourth.
"To be honest we expected to be a little bit better after this morning's warm-up," said Stoner. "The changes we made, and the [soft] tire we ran, maybe it was a bit too hot and the front was running a bit wide. But at least I managed to stay on. Not exactly what I wanted."
Gresini rider Melandri was delighted to storm to fifth from 14th on the grid, but just missed out on beating Stoner after they swapped the position multiple times on the final lap.
"I had an awful qualifying but a great start," he said. "We found a good set-up this morning, so the front of the bike gave me a lot more confidence. I had a few aggressive laps.
"I expected to follow Casey a bit longer, but he made a mistake [when he ran wide at Turn 1], but he came back strong. I tried to pass him at the last corner but made a small mistake in the last chicane. I had many overtakes with Casey, it was very nice."
Sixth-placed de Puniet was also pleased with sixth.
"It was a very good race, a really hard battle with Marco and Casey," he said. "I wanted to finish fourth, but they were just a little stronger than me. Sixth in the race and sixth in the championship is a good weekend for us."