Valentino Rossi and Ducati claimed small progress in finishing closer to victory in Sunday's Catalunya MotoGP, but fifth place was little to celebrate.

Rossi had taken his first Desmosedici rostrum at the previous Le Mans round and, although 7 rather than 14 seconds from Casey Stoner and victory in Catalunya, the true pace of Stoner was arguably masked by light rain at mid-race distance.

Much heavier rain cost Rossi the chance to try his race-day set-up in morning warm-up, without which he feels he could have closed the three-second gap to Ben Spies and the final podium position.

On the otherhand, fifth could easily have been sixth if Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa had been fit to ride, while the lack of race pace by pole sitter Marco Simoncelli removed another factory RCV from the equation.

"There are good and bad aspects to today's race," began Rossi. "On the positive side, we reduced the gap to the front, and the others in front of me weren't so far ahead. On the other hand, I'm obviously not happy with fifth place, because our goal was to do better than that.

"To tell the truth, we really could have done a little better today but last night we thought of a change to try in the warm-up and the session turned out to be wet. The change worked quite well, so we found ourselves at a crossroads as to whether or not to blindly use it in the race.

"We tried it, and that may have been a mistake because the bike moved a lot on corner entry. It was sliding, and I didn't have enough grip, so I was stuck for the whole race, unable to attack Dovizioso and Spies. Otherwise, I think I could have had a slightly better pace and perhaps battled with them.

"Anyway, we're not too far off, and we're working well, which we need to continue doing. The championship is long and we're still fully focused on both the GP11 and 2012, and we have no intention of backing off," Rossi insisted.

Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden finished in eighth place and Ducati technical director Filippo Preziosi described round five as 'another small step forward'.

"Clearly, we would have liked to have given Vale what he needed to fight for the podium, but nonetheless, I think today's race demonstrates that we've taken another small step forward," he declared.

"We've reduced the gap to the front, which is very positive. It was probably possible to do even better, but we found ourselves in a situation where we only had this morning's wet warm-up to try some changes, and they didn't all work well in the race.

"Nicky wasn't able to take full advantage of all the sessions either, but he likes the latest changes to the GP11, so we hope that soon we'll see him back at his level from last year as we improve the bike step by step.

"We're working hard on all areas of the bike, and the direction we're following is beginning to pay off. We're already better than we were in the winter tests, but we're still not to the point that Valentino and Nicky deserve."