Catalunya saw Dani Pedrosa return to the MotoGP podium for the first time since Valencia last November.

It completed a roller coaster of emotions for the Repsol Honda star, who appeared ready for the new season after winter testing, only to suffer a return of his arm pump problems at the opening Qatar round.

That same evening Pedrosa announced he was withdrawing from competition to seek some form of treatment, the end result of which was complicated surgery that left him sidelined for three events.

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"Very happy to be back on the podium," said Pedrosa, who finished third behind the Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in Catalunya. "It's been so long and some very hard moments in these last months.

"I had to take some hard decisions and everything looked against me but I followed my heart and actually it was the right thing to do because since I came back every race I'm feeling better and better. It is clear that I have a positive progression in the physical condition.

"Also for the mind it's very important because I get more confident and I can start to forget more about it and attack more with my riding."

Casting his mind back to Qatar, Pedrosa confirmed it may have been his last race had a solution to his arm problem not been found.

"I knew if I couldn't recover my arm [there] was no meaning for me to race in a situation where I cannot grab the handlebar and be focused on the riding, only having issues with the control of the bike," he said. "So that's why I stopped, because I knew it was a difficult situation to continue in that way. I needed to clear the future of my racing activities."

Pedrosa's podium came in a race that saw team-mate Marc Marquez fall for the third time this season and the Movistar Yamahas - which have won the last five races - cross the line 20-seconds clear of the #26.

"It's obvious that we are far from [Lorenzo and Rossi] in the race pace, but we cannot do everything in one day. We know we have some problems but little by little we hope to get closer and get some things in the next races," Pedrosa said.

"The first two or three laps I lose already many seconds. But the biggest difference is from the middle to the end of the race where we cannot make the bike work and accelerate as we normally do.

"I think there are tracks that will suit us a little better than this one. Maybe here we are so long time in the edge it's more difficult for us. But I think this race was very positive for me because I was riding alone and I was trying to understand more the bike. I hope in the next races we can close the gap a little bit."