Casey Stoner, winner at Mugello one-year ago, had to settle for a last-lap fourth in Sunday's race - which would surely have been fifth had Valentino Rossi been present - after struggling to get the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 working well at the Italian circuit.
The Australian's weekend began with a fall on Friday after a braking problem, followed by a switch to the 2009 Ohlins front forks from Saturday and then the decision to run the softer rear tyre - unlike Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso ahead of him - on Sunday.
Stoner spent the race locked in a tense three-way fight with the satellite Honda's of Marco Melandri and Randy de Puniet, but kept his nerve to pass them both on the final lap, but was a massive 25.7sec from winner Pedrosa.
“To be honest we expected to be a little bit better after this morning's warm-up but maybe the conditions were a little too hot for the changes we made and the tyre we ran in the race,” said Stoner. “The left side of the tyre was working really well but I just couldn't get the right side hooked up and I was running wide, losing the front a bit, but I managed to stay on.
“Once I got ahead of Marco and Randy in the early stages of the race I was pushing to get away but couldn't so I decided to sit back and attack them on the last lap. I suppose in that respect I got the job done but it's not exactly what I would have liked for this race because it's a track I like and it's Ducati's home race,” he admitted.
“Casey showed his character, he knew he didn't have the pace to fight for the podium so he waited for the right moment to secure the best possible result,” said Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding general director. “For some reason, which we are going to analyse, he didn't have the grip we expected him to have after the changes we made this morning but he definitely got the best out of what he had.”
After crashing out at Qatar and Le Mans, Mugello at least marked Stoner's best race finish of the season and he has moved up to eighth in the championship, albeit 66 points behind Lorenzo.
Team-mate Nicky Hayden crashed out.