After a weekend spent entirely outside of the top ten, Valentino Rossi gave his local fans reason to cheer with a spirited performance in the opening laps of Sunday's Misano MotoGP race.
Starting just eleventh on the grid, Rossi used the uncertainty caused by spots of rain to rise to sixth by the end of the first lap, then gained another place by passing Yamaha replacement Ben Spies.
That was as good as it got, with Marco Simoncelli and Spies later overtaking Rossi, but the seven time MotoGP champion admitted seventh place was better than he had expected.
“I'm pretty happy because we didn't expect to do this well," Rossi said. "I didn't think I'd be able to stay with the second group, which is our goal at the moment, and instead we managed it for half the race.
"We still weren't able to attack like we'd like to, but anyway, we were right there. I started really well from the fourth row, and I was a little crazy through the first three corners because I had to push even though there were some raindrops.
"It was nice after that. I stayed with 'Sic' and 'Dovi' for a little while and also battled with Spies, and we maintained a good pace.
"This morning we made a good change on the front, and if we'd done that yesterday I probably could have started closer to the front.
"It ended up being one of my best races of the year, although of course we have to remember that we're only talking about seventh place. Still, it was a nice race in front of a good crowd. We're fairly satisfied as we wait to take the necessary steps forward.”