Toni Elias was pleasantly surprised by his wet weather pace in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, while by contrast San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate Alex de Angelis struggled in conditions he had been looking forward to.

The end result was that Elias spent the early laps battling for a podium, before holding seventh for most of the race, while de Angelis only briefly broke into the top ten on his way to twelfth.

"I saw the rain just before we were due to go out for the sighting lap and I thought 'madre m?a, this isn't good for us!'" admitted Elias. "As it turned out it was completely the opposite and with seventh place and some bad results for my rivals we have actually made up more ground in the championship than we might have hoped to if it was dry.

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"I'm really pleased with the result but also with the performance because riding in the wet is not usually our strong point. I don't know if it was because the track temperature was higher here but I didn't struggle as much as I expected for grip," added the Spaniard, who is now tied with de Angelis and Chris Vermeulen for ninth, but just three points from seventh.

A lack of (rear) grip was exactly what de Angelis suffered.

"I was so confident that I could have a strong race in the rain today but for whatever reason I never felt comfortable with the wet setting here and I couldn't get going," explained de Angelis. "The rear was spinning up everywhere and it was all I could to hang on and bring it home in the points.

"It's a real shame because this could have been a good opportunity for us to make up more ground in the championship. It's a missed chance but at the same time my rivals didn't capitalise on it and we are still within three points of seventh place, which is my objective when we head for the final race at Valencia," he confirmed.

"Both of them are still very much in the hunt for seventh in the championship, which we will fight for at Valencia," stated team manager Fausto Gresini.

de Angelis continues to be linked to a Scot Honda rider for 2010, while Elias may step down to Moto2 - depending on how many of the new independent teams expressing an interest in MotoGP actually appear.