Casey Stoner finished fourth for the second race in succession, in Sunday's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, but was far happier than he'd been after Laguna Seca.
Stoner overtook eventual winner Valentino Rossi
for the lead on lap 7 of 30, holding firm at the front until the Italian surged back ahead on lap 16, by which time Stoner's pace was starting to slow.
A repeat of the physical problems seen at the last three rounds was feared, but this time the limiting factor was tyre wear - initially at the front, which was compensated for by a reduction in fuel weight, and then the rear.
Stoner, like Rossi, was using the softer compound rear tyre. Lorenzo and Pedrosa both ran the harder rear.
"I wasn't too confident at the start of the race because we were losing ground and my feeling with the bike wasn't great but it quickly improved so we decided to hit the front as soon as possible – if nothing else just to hold everybody up and stay in there with a shout,” said the Ducati star.
“I started to lose the front end a few times so I decided to back off a bit. That allowed Valentino, Jorge and Dani to come past but then, as the fuel load lightened, the front fell more secure and I was able to pick up the pace again,” he revealed. “Dani came up with an unbelievable lap that was about half a second quicker than any of his others.
“After he passed me I tried to push and stay with him but I actually lost the rear at the bottom of the hill and had to let off the brakes, which almost forced me to run into the gravel.
“All in all with the way things have been going lately I'm happy with today's race because it's the first time in a while I feel I've been really involved and I think if it wasn't for that problem with the rear I may have been able to dig deep and given Valentino Jorge and Dani something to think about at the end.
“I'm excited about going to Donington now and I want to thank the team for sticking by me over the last few weeks because it hasn't been fun for any of them,” he concluded.
"Casey finished fourth like in the last race but this time he was up front for a long time, he was able to fight harder and above all at the end he felt slightly better than in the last three extremely tough weekends,” stated Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo. “That is definitely the biggest positive.”
Stoner, a double 2009 race winner is now 28 points behind Rossi in the championship.