Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso rode a magnificent race to finish fourth at Misano after hounding Dani Pedrosa for third throughout in the San Marino MotoGP.

It was a impressive performance by the Italian, who was only five seconds down on race winner Valentino Rossi at the finish.

And Dovizioso said the result was further evidence of the strides being made by Ducati this season.

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"I'm so happy because [I finished] five seconds to Valentino; it was a difficult race but it confirmed the improvement of the bike," said Dovizioso.

"It was a strange race because I really pushed almost every lap and sometimes over the limit, the last 10 laps especially over the limit.

"I knew Dani was trying to open a gap to me but I had a good feeling with the energy in my body so I was able to push really hard and try to stay with him.

"So this is really good for me and I would say thank-you to the team because they worked really, really hard with the bike. We are closing and closing and this is really positive for us."

Dovizioso is having to ride beyond his limits to force his way into contention but has also been aided by the development progress being made this season at Ducati.

"I think the last two races I made something special but with the right bike we were able to make this attack. This year we made a step, it's not the final step but this is the step that will start to move us up," he said.

"I don't know; it will be interesting to see [if more input from Ducati will enable him to challenge for wins]. It will be hard but I don't think that will be a big step if we have something new. Like I say always to stay in front we need different things but sure, five seconds is a small gap but I didn't ride in a normal way and it's not a way to have everything under control, like the riders in the front.

"Everything is positive, we are closing and we are not very close to fighting for the victory.

On his pursuit of Pedrosa, Dovizioso again stressed that he was forced to push to the absolute maximum to keep the Honda in his sights, although he was unable to get close enough to launch an attack in the final laps.

"I really didn't have the pace of Dani from the first lap to the end. I had to push and go over the limit in some parts of the track where I was faster and stronger, so it was always a risk. I was 100 per cent at the limit," he said.

"In the last four laps when the gap became a little bit bigger I was in a good situation with my energy but I knew it was possible to crash because many times I lost the front. But I wanted to try because to make the podium at Misano would be really special. But I wasn't close enough to make an overtake.

"If I had been closer at T9 on the last lap then sure I would try but I wasn't close enough."

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kma55: I don't think we can read too much into today's result.

Dovizioso finished 5.5s off the lead. In 2012 Rossi was only 4.4s behind.[\blockquote]

Eh??? Your point being?
A year ago, Ducati was averaging being 30 seconds plus behind the winner.
Quarter way into the season this had dropped to 15 seconds behind the winner.
Last race out it was 10 seconds.
Now it is 5 seconds.
If that doesn't show very tangible progress, then I don't know what does. Actually therefore we can read quite a lot into today's result.