Casey Stoner says was delighted to finish second on his MotoGP return at Estoril today and prove himself to his doubters.
The Australian has missed the last three races while recovering from fatigue but showed no signs of weakness in today's race. He passed Dani Pedrosa for second place in the early stages and briefly challenged leader Jorge Lorenzo before falling back and settling for second.
Stoner admitted that he had struggled earlier in the weekend, but grew in confidence with every session.
"We knew we had the speed but getting back into race mode is a little bit difficult," he said. "When you take this long off in the middle of the season, it's a little bit difficult to switch on the race head again.
"Everything felt a little bit strange on Friday, and then on Saturday everything started to come back and feel more comfortable. As the weekend went on, we got a little better with arm pump and things like that. I started to get some issues in the later stages of the race, but Jorge was too fast today anyway."
But added that he was happy just to be back racing again following the two month layoff and was pleased with the result.
"I know there were a lot of people saying 'it's all in his head' and even some doctors thought it was in my head, but all I know is I've never felt so bad in my life as I did after those races," Stoner said. "To not be competitive like that was terrible for me.
"I really had the strength in the race, it was awesome, I was up for it. It was great to be fighting early but I lost footrest and that made it a bit harder. Physically, in last few laps I was still not ready, but we're really happy to be second and to come back from these problems and silence the critics."