Andrea Dovizoso failed to capitalise on his first MotoGP front row start in Laguna Seca, the Italian ending the 32-lap American Grand Prix in a disappointing fourth position.
The Repsol Honda rider held third place on lap 12 when team-mate Dani Pedrosa blew his hopes of a second successive Laguna Seca success with a turn five crash.
The former world 125GP champion was well clear of Valentino Rossi in fourth spot but was unable to keep a fast rhythm to secure him a first podium in four races.
Dovizioso let slip a 2.5s advantage on Rossi, who was riding superbly just 50 days after he broke his right tibia in Mugello.
Rossi made his clinical move for third on lap 27 and Dovizioso was unable to find a way back through as he struggled in the final half of the spectacular California circuit.
He said: “It was a strange race because I lost too much behind (Ben) Spies in the early laps and after that I didn’t have any reference.
"I didn’t know where I was losing and where I needed to improve and then when Valentino passed me I understood I was so slow at the Corkscrew and also turn 11.
"I tried to follow him and I improved a little bit. But I didn’t have any possibility to try and overtake him, but also in T3 and T4 I was slower than him. It was difficult to stay close to him and pass him.
"I wanted to pass him before the last lap because I was not strong in the last two sections and it would be hard to attack on the last lap.
"I didn’t have the performance on the brakes to make a move - so I couldn’t overtake him again.”