James Toseland said his early switch to dry tires in the Italian Grand Prix was more through necessity than a tactical masterstroke, as he had been struggling badly with the setup on his 'wet' bike.
The Tech 3 Yamaha rider was the first man to pit during the wet-dry Mugello race, and although he initially struggled for pace, as his slick tires warmed up he was able to fly through the field - at times lapping four seconds quicker than the leaders. He eventually finished in a season-best seventh place.
"I'm happy with that because I feel I should be fighting around the top six on a regular basis," said Toseland. "I started the race with quite a hard spring in the rear shock and in the first few laps I was in trouble. I hadn't planned on coming into the pits so early for my dry bike but I had no choice. I was losing a lot of time so it was definitely a gamble worth taking.
"The first couple of laps on slicks were eventful while I was trying to get the hard tyres to temperature, but once I'd got a rhythm going I felt pretty confident and I was pleased I'd decided to come in early. It's the first race I've enjoyed for a while because for most of it I was fighting for the top six. That's where I was a few times last season and that's where this bike and team deserve to be."
Team boss Herve Poncharal hopes that the result will mark a turning point for Toseland, whose season was hampered before it even began after a pair of massive crashes in testing.
"I want to give special congratulations to James," said Poncharal. "He has had a very difficult year so far but he's never given up and I'm pleased to see him back where he belongs and fighting for the top six.
"He was the first one to come into the pits and it was a good decision because for a few laps he was the fastest rider on track and this helped put him a position where he could fight for a good result. He showed a great fighting spirit to battle with Randy [de Puniet] and this race will be a big confidence boost for him."
Toseland was ultimately beaten to sixth by his team-mate Colin Edwards, who recovered very strongly after losing ground in the wet for the second successive event.
"That race was almost exactly the same as what happened in Le Mans where I was losing time in the wet at the beginning and then charging through from the back in the dry," said the Texan. "I don't know why, but when the track is damp or full wet, I've got no confidence with the front. And being a front-end guy, if I've got no feeling then I don't go fast.
"I just put my head down and was able to get down to some decent times and to take the positive out of the race I at least came back to finish in the top six because I was way back. But I've got to get this bike fixed for me in the wet because I haven't sorted out that particular puzzle yet."