After numerous near misses, Marco Simoncelli finally stood on a MotoGP podium for the first time in Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, a front-row starter six times this season but faller in five races and penalised in another, moved into the coveted top three by overtaking world champion Jorge Lorenzo at the halfway stage of the Brno race.

Simoncelli remained in close contact with fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso throughout, although he admitted - after such a tumultuous season - he was more than content to settle for third.

But that didn't mean he could relax - Lorenzo put on a late spurt and the #58 claimed the final podium place by less than a second at the chequered flag.

Simoncelli becomes the first non-factory team rider to take a 'dry' podium this year, after a third place by Tech 3's Colin Edwards in the soaking wet British MotoGP. Simoncelli rides a full factory Honda for the satellite Gresini team.

"I am really happy," smiled Simoncelli, a former 250cc world champion. "I have been very strong this year but it has been tough because we have had some difficult situations to deal with.

"Me and the team have never lost our faith though and finally the result has come so I want to thank all of them, as well as Honda and anybody else who has maintained their belief in me.

"On the last lap today I just wanted it to be over and nothing bad to happen and thankfully it all worked out. I am really delighted.

"I didn't make a great start and had to pass Valentino, who fought back for three corners and I have the tyre marks on my leathers to prove it! It was a nice battle even though it was short.

"I tried to attack Dovizioso at the end but he was pushing hard and I decided to settle for the position because I knew Lorenzo was making up ground behind me."

Rossi congratulated Simoncelli on his first podium: "I'd like to compliment 'Sic' for a podium that he really deserved, for today's race but also for what he has shown this season."

The result has moved Simoncelli up to eighth place in the championship, making him the leading non-factory team rider.

"Finally, finally, finally we are on the podium!" added team manager Fausto Gresini. "It has been a tough race because our rivals were strong and we weren't sure that today would be the day to break our duck.

"Now I just hope this result gives Marco and the team the confidence boost to carry us through the rest of the season. Brno is a magical circuit for us and that proved to be the case again today."

Brno was also the scene of Team Gresini's first podium back in 1998 with Alex Barros and its 100th podium last year with Toni Elias in Moto2.

Simoncelli's podium was the first in MotoGP for Gresini since 2009.