Dani Pedrosa took his eighth podium finish of the 2009 MotoGP season at Estoril on Sunday, but crossing the finish line almost ten seconds from victory wasn't what the Repsol Honda rider had expected - especially after leading through turn one.

As has become customary, Pedrosa made another fantastic start to blast from fourth on the grid into the early lead, a skill that even he can't explain.

"I don't know," said Dani when asked what the secret is to his good starts. "So many times I've been asked this question, but I really have no idea. Maybe it is one of my good points as a rider, but there is only a very short time that I can use this skill!"

Pedrosa is usually among the best at putting in fast early laps to break the opposition, but his Estoril advantage latest just a few corners before countryman Jorge Lorenzo dived for the inside when the #3 ran a little off line.

To his disappointment, Pedrosa then found himself unable to match the Yamaha rider's pace.

"I went a little wide and Jorge passed me. I could see immediately that he was going very fast and I couldn't follow his rhythm for the first five laps," he confirmed.

Worse was to follow when Casey Stoner, whom Pedrosa is battling for third in the world championship, squeezed past on lap two of 28. But the 2009 US GP winner was able to stick with the returning Ducati rider - setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 11 - until another mistake.

"My lap times got better, but I made a big mistake. The bike was snaking too much into a corner and I went completely wide and lost about one second," he revealed.

"Then the gap between Casey and me was the same for the rest of the race. I tried to make some pressure but he was constant with the lap times.

"Third is good, but of course I expected a different race today. Jorge did so well at the beginning. He did so many fast laps and was able to get away," confirmed Pedrosa.

Pedrosa is now just three points ahead of Stoner with three rounds to go, the next of which is the Ducati star's home round in Australia.

"It definitely will now be an interesting fight for third place in the championship with Casey. He is the reference in Australia and so the next race is going to be hard fought - I'm looking forward to it."

But when asked what he needs to return to the race-winning form shown at Laguna Seca, Pedrosa admitted he isn't sure.

"I really don't know because some tracks we are closer and at other tracks we struggle to be on the pace," he said. "Here we were closer than normal but in the race we were still too far behind. We shave some hard work to do.

"I definitely want to win at least one of the three races left and maybe the next one is the most important," he added.