For the first half of his home Misano MotoGP race, Valentino Rossi kept pace with Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, putting him in podium contention.

But the Italian then began to fade and was ultimately left in fourth place, for the fourth race in succession, crossing the line 15 seconds from victorious Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

"In Misano I was just fourth, but it was a better weekend," Rossi insisted. "I was able to stay with the top guys throughout practice and I was not so bad in the first part of the race, for the first 12 or 13 laps I was close behind the two Hondas.

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"After unfortunately I was too much at the limit and the top three were faster than me, but it was a good step compared with the other races where I suffered too much at the beginning. Now we have to stay at the same level as Misano, but also improve the bike and set-up to arrive with the same pace to the end."

Rossi was speaking on the eve of this weekend's Aragon round, a circuit which joined the calendar in 2010 and where Rossi - a winner of 80 premier-class races - has never finished higher than sixth.

"I've never been on the podium, but in 2010 [Rossi's only previous Yamaha appearance] I had a lot of problems with the shoulder and I'm quite positive for this weekend. I like the track and especially when we came for the test here after Barcelona I had a very good feeling with the M1.

"Now for sure in two or three months the settings have changed a lot, but we hope to stay near the top from practice."

Aragon will mark the second event where Rossi and Lorenzo will race with a seamless shift gearbox on their factory M1s.

"The seamless gearbox is an important part, necessary because we have to fight with Honda and they have it. So before we had a disadvantage, now it is a lot less in terms of acceleration," explained Rossi.

"But we have to work a lot on the M1 also in some other areas, especially where I personally suffer - in braking and corner entry. On the Monday after Misano we worked a lot on the settings and made some positive modifications. We will try to continue like this."

Rossi is fourth in the world championship standings, behind Marquez, Lorenzo and Pedrosa.