Jorge Lorenzo lost the chance to cut Valentino Rossi's MotoGP title lead to under one race win but, having almost been taken out at the second corner of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, couldn't feel too disappointed with second behind his Fiat Yamaha team-mate.
While Rossi - who crashed one lap after being passed by Lorenzo at the previous Indianapolis round - had been fastest all weekend in front of his home fans at Misano, Lorenzo came into the race a worrying sixth in morning warm-up, when he had been 0.7sec slower than Rossi.
The triple 2009 race winner then narrowly avoided disaster when he was tagged in the second turn pile-up that eliminated Alex de Angelis, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden - but just one lap later he overtook Rossi for third into turn one.
Rossi later admitted he wasn't feeling too confident on full fuel, but Lorenzo was unable to capitalise on the reigning six-time MotoGP champion's temporary weakness when he failed to overtake Toni Elias.
Lorenzo was held up behind the Gresini Honda rider for three laps before Rossi punished the #99 by passing both Lorenzo and Elias in the space of a lap.
Lorenzo kept in touch by overtaking Elias soon after, but when Rossi took the lead from Dani Pedrosa on lap 8 of 28, Lorenzo spent six laps behind the factory Honda rider, who held a 4km/h top speed advantage even with Lorenzo in his slipstream.
Those laps cost Lorenzo any chance of challenging Rossi, who rode to a 2.4sec victory and extended his title lead to 30 points with four rounds and 100 points remaining.
"I did what I had to do today and took as many points as I could, which is the most important thing when you're not perfect,” said a pragmatic Lorenzo. “Unfortunately we struggled a bit all weekend to find the right setting and so I thought it was better to take care and ensure the second place today.
“I took some time to get past Dani and Toni and then it was too far to Valentino.
“After I was nearly brought down on the second corner I wanted to make sure I got the points in order to keep the championship alive,” he continued. “We have some work to do but we will make sure we're back to our best in Estoril, where I have great memories from last year and my first win."
"Of course our aim is to win races and try to keep the tension on this fantastic championship to the end,” admitted team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “We will fight to the end and keep trying to improve at every race."