Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista spent the majority of Sunday's German MotoGP locked in combat with factory Ducati riders - and world champions - Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi for seventh place.
The Spaniard overtook both Desmosedici riders on the final lap to finish just 0.059sec in front of Hayden, with seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi a mere 0.066sec further back.
“I got involved with the two Ducati guys and really enjoyed the race with them," said Bautista. "At the end it was very difficult to overtake Valentino and Nicky because they brake very hard and very late, making it tough to get past.
"On the last lap I overtook Valentino at the end of the main straight. I then followed Nicky and waited for the last two corners because I knew I had an opportunity there to get him.
"I had to brake with everything I had to get past him on corner 12, but I ran a bit wide and lost some speed, Nicky overtook me on the last corner, but he entered too quickly and he went out, so I got past him on the exit of the corner.
"I am very happy that we are the first finisher after the top six because they are on a different level at the moment. For the next race I hope to continue with this way of working and get closer to the top.”
Seventh was Bautista's best dry result of the season, which began badly when he broke his leg in practice for round one in Qatar.
Bautista was one of three riders to use the softer rear tyre, the others being Sylvain Guintoli and Hector Barbera.