Randy de Puniet, who only finished four of the first seven races last season, kept his perfect 2009 finishing record intact despite some tough moves during round seven of the championship at Assen on Saturday.

Part of a thrilling battle for sixth that raged for most of the race, de Puniet survived contact with both James Toseland and Toni Elias to cross the line as the top Honda rider in seventh position.

"It has been a thrilling and stressful race for me," said the 28-year-old. "The [tenth place] grid position did not help us and I got a bad start but after the first corner I overtook some riders and was up to ninth by the end of the first lap.

"After that I caught a group of riders faster than me with better engines and could not pass them. Suddenly Toseland passed me after the back straight but he was on the limit and hit my machine.

"Once again I had to push to catch the group but then Elias came up and hit me on turn no. 3. However I stay focused and when Capirossi and Elias made a small mistake in the last corner I was ready to take the chance to pass them.

"After a difficult qualifying we deserve this seventh place. My team did a very good job on the electronic system between the warm-up and the race," added the LCR rider.

Both Repsol riders crashed out of the race, meaning de Puniet's result marked the first time this year that a satellite Honda rider has finished as the top Honda in a race.

A satellite Yamaha is yet to finish as the first M1, while a satellite Ducati rider has also not yet been the top Desmosedici in a race.