Ducati's Andrea Iannone said his podium finish at the Circuit of the Americas was a much-needed pick-me-up after the Italian came in for criticism last weekend in the wake of his collision with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Iannone lost control of his GP15 as he battled with Dovizioso on the final lap for second place in Argentina, sending both riders crashing out and robbing Ducati of a certain double podium.
He incurred a penalty point and a three-place grid penalty, leaving Iannone on the third row for Sunday's race in Austin.
However, Iannone rode a solid race and capitalised to gain two places when the incredibly unfortunate Dovizioso was taken out again, this time by Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
The 26-year-old was relieved to register a strong result for Ducati after the events in Argentina, describing the incident as one of the most difficult points in his career.
“I'm very happy, I needed this podium and for us it is very important after the first two races because I had a very bad moment – I think one of the worst of my career because I have a lot of pressure from all people, so it's a very difficult moment,” he said.
“When we start this weekend we focused a lot on the practice and I also focused to ride the bike in the best way. We improved the bike practice by practice so this is very important and in all practice, we stayed in the top and I have a very good feeling with the bike and we improved.
“This situation is very difficult, also because I start from the third row, and in the first corner I touched with Dani [Pedrosa] and had contact with him and also at the second corner with Aleix Espargaro, so it was very difficult from the beginning. I try to stay safe but in any case this is a very good moment for us.”
Iannone is understanding of the bedding in period with the new Michelin tyres and has praised MotoGP's new sole tyre supplier for the progress they have made since the winter tests amidst criticism of the manufacturer from other quarters.
“When you arrive on the track you have an old environment and especially when you start in the practice, the braking point is how you remember last year,” said Iannone.
“It is very important to try to adjust during the season and the style with this tyre is completely different. It's important to adjust the setting but I think next year the situation for everybody from the beginning will be better.
“I'm very happy for the Michelin tyres because during the winter they improve a lot and it is a very good way for the development; the first races are difficult for everybody.”
Iannone is now looking ahead to the European rounds of the championship and says he will be relentless in his quest to reduce the deficit to Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo to challenge for a premier class victory.
“Marc in this track always is very strong and all weekend he has good potential and is very fast. We try to improve and try to close a little bit the gap and sometimes we improve during the weekend and sometimes Marc improve more than me, but for sure we try and for us it is very important to finish this race,” he said.
“We focus on the future and the Europe races to close the gap on Marc, on Jorge. I think in Qatar we have a very good potential but in this track the Honda is very strong, also Marc, but we try to close the gap and win the first race in the future.”