Valentino Rossi felt that seventh place in Sunday's Portuguese MotoGP marked his and Ducati's 'current potential' and they must now work to try and raise the limit.

Tenth and ninth in the opening 2012 rounds, Rossi was relieved to avoid any set-up surprises at Estoril, where he was able to steadily improve the GP12 throughout practice and qualifying.

This stability in turn allowed greater consistency during the race, where Rossi quickly rose from ninth on the grid to seventh, a position he maintained to the chequered flag.

"It went a bit better this time, in the sense that we started from a better base on Friday and we managed to prepare for today over the course of the weekend," said Rossi, who has switched to a more 'Ducati-style' set-up, similar to team-mate Nicky Hayden.

"I was able to approach the race knowing what to expect from the bike, and I therefore managed to push harder and get a little closer to the limit.

"The first laps were decent. I moved up a couple of positions and then I maintained a consistent pace, doing times that we expected to do. We can say that we took advantage of our current potential, and now we'll have to work to make another step forward."

Finishing as the top Ducati, but still 26.7sec from victory, Rossi is now looking for performance gains in specific areas.

"We must improve on corner exits and on acceleration because right now we're not able to be as effective as the others due to the fact that we can't get all of the power to the ground," said the seven time MotoGP champion.

"We have a test tomorrow, and we'll start working. Anyway, today I even managed to have some fun."

After a nightmare start 2012, Rossi's second Ducati season, team manager Vittoriano Guareschi believes The Doctor finally has a 'good starting point' to progress from.

"Today Vale rode the whole race at close to the same pace as his qualifying time, he made some nice passes, and he was able to push a bit closer to the limit," he said "I think this is a good starting point."

Rossi is due to try a new engine with a softer power delivery on Monday, although rain is forecast.