By Stephen English
LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl claimed his first MotoGP podium with a strong second place in Sunday's US MotoGP at Laguna Seca.
Having shown a marked improvement of late the German had been much more competitive and a debut rostrum looked like a possibility last weekend in his home Sachsenring round, before fading from first to fourth.
At Laguna Seca however Bradl sprung from his first MotoGP pole to lead for 18 of the 32 laps, before Marc Marquez found a way past.
"It was a good weekend for us and I was able to make the pole position yesterday, which was a great sign for us, and on the other side the expectations are quite high," said the 2011 Moto2 world champion. "In the last three races we have been progressing and coming closer and closer to the podium and finally today we made it happen."
Bradl then went on to assess his landmark race.
"The pressure was high because from pole position it is always different but I made a good start and pushed from the beginning but on full tanks I was careful and expected to be faster but I had some moments so just stayed calm and it was only Marc who could follow me. When he caught me I could see that he had more grip in the corners and I just tried to control the gap to Valentino. It was a long and tough race."
Having claimed his first pole and rostrum, Bradl's goals have now moved to being a consistent front runner.
"Hopefully the first podium is the most difficult and the next one comes easier! The pressure has been high lately because we were close to the podium and for the future this is important for me and the team and this is a good weekend for us."
Bradl's result should also help convince Honda to take up its option on him for 2014. Bradl is now sixth in the world championship, one place behind top satellite team rider Cal Crutchlow.