With Valentino Rossi sidelined by injury, Andrea Dovizioso at least gave the Mugello fans one home rider to cheer for on the podium with third place in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

In a race that saw Repsol Honda team-mate and pole sitter Dani Pedrosa lead from start to finish, Dovizioso rose from eighth on the grid to fourth at turn one - and was third behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo by the end of the lap.

Dovi remained locked to Lorenzo's rear wheel for much of the race, but was unable to pass the double 2010 race winner.

Nevertheless, third place marked his first Mugello rostrum since 2006, in the 250cc class, and his first ever home podium in MotoGP.

"It's so special to be on the podium at Mugello in front of my home crowd because I've never made the podium in MotoGP here - I always had to watch it on the TV in the garage!" said Andrea.

"It was a really emotional experience up there with all the fans supporting us.
"I made a good start and this was really important for my race. I wanted to finish the race fighting with Lorenzo because I think it could have been a good battle on the last lap, but I couldn't catch him."

Dovizioso has now taken three third-places from the four races held, but still needs to find more performance to challenge for race wins, having crossed the line six seconds from Pedrosa on Sunday.

"We are getting closer to the front but we are not quite there yet and we have to take the next step so that we can fight for victories," he confirmed. "Three podium finishes is a good start to the season and is very important for the championship, and it's thanks to the hard work we've done over the winter and in the first races.

"I'd like to say congratulations to Dani on the win because he had an incredible pace, and this is an extra motivation for us to take that extra step forward so we can fight for the win," he added.

"Andrea did an excellent job and considering his starting position we couldn't have asked for much more," added team manager Toshiyuki Yamaji.

Dovizioso is now fourth in the championship, 32 points behind Lorenzo, but only seven from Pedrosa and should easily bridge the three point gap to the absent Rossi next time out at Silverstone.