"Dovi (who now thinks 3rd place is his by right)."
When did he tell you that then..... Come on, that's a bit of a statement to make with no foundation whatsoever
How much the Hondas have improved is pretty well imeasurable, if they have improved at all from last season.
Dovi has not had regular podiums. He was generally around 4th or 5th last year, couple of podiums maybe. This year he has had three podiums, one at Le Mans following the exit of Pedrosa, the drive through of Simoncelli and a slower than usual Lorenzo who hurt his hand in the warm-up crash. Another at Siverstone without Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Simoncelli and another at Assen again without Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Simoncelli. These podiums can't be taken as a true indication of his pace. Put those riders back in those races and 'ON PACE' he is generally behind them. And don't forget Rossi who is a faster rider than Dovi but he's not in the mix yet.
Pedrosa was getting regular 1st and 2nd places mid season last year until his crash, so the bike was already performing well last year in his hands. He was on the podium with one 1st this year in the first three races, same for Lorenzo. So not much has changed really, he and Dovi have achieved roughly the same finishes as last year which doesn't seem to indicate that the bike has made a leap forward.
It's a good bike obviously and Stoner has added to its potential to be a winner as they now have 2 riders who can regularly podium and win. Whether that indicates a leap forward in the bike's performance is debatable. Yamaha have had 2 wins also this year and podiums.
Without meaning it as a pop at Rossi, the Ducati's weakness is possibly more exposed this year as he won't/can't or whatever, ride it like Stoner did to get it higher up the results.
When all six potential winners are actually finishing races, then is the time to judge Dovi against his performances last year.