Colin Edwards held the ground in between MotoGP's big four and the rest of the field throughout Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider qualified in fifth - behind Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa - and held that position from the end of the first lap to the chequered flag.
The Texan had hoped that question marks over Pedrosa's fuel consumption and Stoner's fitness might allow him to battle for his second podium of the season. But with even a struggling Rossi staying out of reach, the #5 had to settle for finishing as the top satellite rider for the sixth time this year.
“Like I said yesterday, if you're the next best rider behind the top four in the world then you've done a good job and I rode the strongest race I could today,” said Colin.
“I got a good start but we've been fighting some front-end movement all weekend and I knew early on I wasn't going to be able to go with Valentino in front of me. The tyres worked great but we were just missing something on the set-up that meant even though Valentino was struggling a little bit, I couldn't really put any pressure on him.
“As much as I couldn't comfortably stay with the four guys in front, it was pretty easy for me to run a pace that meant I could pull away from the group behind me. Once I'd got a comfortable gap it was just a case of staying consistent to make sure I didn't give anybody a chance of catching me.”
“Colin had a brilliant weekend and though I don't like to say it, we were the best of the rest again,” admitted team manager Herve Poncharal. “The top four are pretty much untouchable but to be the first of the rest is a great achievement for us. Colin could open a gap on the group behind him quite comfortably and he made no mistakes, which is always crucial."
Edwards, who lost fifth in the championship to factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso when he was taken out at the previous San Marino Grand Prix, is now just eight points behind the Italian, who was seventh on Sunday.
“I got a few more points back on Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and that is a good reward for the all effort my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 have put in. We've got three races to go and I'll be giving it my all as always because I really want that fifth spot in the championship,” he declared.