Malaysian MotoGP winner Andrea Dovizioso believes he is in the best moment of his racing career, but that he and Ducati will be even stronger in 2017.
The Italian silenced his critics by claiming his first MotoGP win since the 2009 British Grand Prix, and first on a Desmosedici, with a supreme performance in the wet Sepang race.
The result also marked Dovizioso's fifth podium of the season and Ducati's second victory of the year, after team-mate Andrea Iannone triumphed in Austria. All of which is a far cry from Dovizioso's debut 2013 season at the factory, when the Desmosedici couldn't even claim a rostrum.
"I think this year my competitiveness and how strong we become, me and Ducati together, is good," he said. "Is not enough, because we want to fight for the championship, but we are very close.
"But we don't forget that four years ago our situation was very bad. And now it is completely different. We can speak about [trying to win in] the dry and fight for the podium in many races. So I'm proud about that.
"So all these things together, I think I'm in my best moment. I can improve in many areas. I am 30 years old, but my style, my character is not to do everything in the first race, or in one lap. It is to work step-by-step.
"So the relationship I have with Ducati becomes very important; they believe in me and that's why I'm the Ducati rider for next year. And I believe in them, because to get this result with Ducati, everybody knows is different.
"I'm really happy and I think we can be better next year, for sure."
Dovizioso is the top Ducati rider in the world championship, albeit in fifth after a disastrous run of bad luck in the early rounds.
"The second, third, and fourth races, I have some really bad luck. Because I did three 'zeros' and it wasn't my fault. And that is a lot of points, because I was able to make two podiums in three races, so is a lot of points in the championship, and it changes everything if you have a lot of points in the beginning of the season.
"So that was very bad, because we started with a good race in Qatar and we had a chance to make more podiums, but I just stayed with 20 points. So that was very hard. But after that, the difficult point of this year was Barcelona.
"I had a wrong tyre in the race, but apart from that we didn't have the speed and when you lose a lot of seconds in a race, this is really bad. Because it means you can't fight for the championship. Because even if you arrive out of the podium, you have to be very close in time.
"That is very important in thinking about the championship, and that's why I can say I'm very happy about the improvement of Ducati this year, but still it's not enough. What we need is something more, a little bit more to try to fight for the championship."
In the meantime, Dovizioso will soon get to celebrate victory with his number one fan...
"For sure [my daughter] is very excited. She always complains when I don't bring a trophy, so now she will be very happy. It will be a nice moment when I see her tomorrow."
By Peter McLaren