Valentino Rossi put a brave face on in Estoril this afternoon after his barren run in MotoGP was extended to seven races.
The Italian led from the second lap and looked on course to win for the first time since his last success in Estoril last year as he fought off the relentless challenge from Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
But when he surrendered the lead to Lorenzo at the chicane on lap 13, the seven-times world champion had no response and he could only hold on for another two laps before Pedrosa seized second.
He slipped further off the pace with fading grip from his Bridgestone rear tyre but held on for a comfortable third place to keep himself in the early title hunt.
The 29-year-old, who trails joint leaders Lorenzo and Pedrosa by 14-points after three rounds, said: “At the end of the day this isn’t a bad result for us because we expected this to be quite a difficult track for us.
"My M1 worked well today; I got a good start and was able to stay at the front to begin with and have some fun. My Bridgestone tyres were working well but I was thinking about trying to conserve them as much as possible because I knew 28 laps was going to be hard.
"Unfortunately I couldn’t stay with Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the later stages and I started to slide a little bit, but anyway to have two podiums in a row with Bridgestone is very important because we’re still in the learning stages of our relationship.
"I think we’ve made another step forward this weekend and we have an important test tomorrow – I hope in China we will be able to fight for the win!