Starting a record-equalling 276th grand prix means it's not often that Loris Capirossi breaks new ground, but the Italian was able to celebrate his landmark appearance with a debut Rizla Suzuki podium on Sunday in the Czech Republic.

Capirossi was still in ninth place by the end of the opening lap, but soon set about hunting down the riders ahead of him and had battled up to third - behind only Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and team-mate Chris Vermeulen - after Casey Stoner fell from the race lead on lap seven.

Vermeulen and Capirossi put on an entertaining duel until the experienced Italian finally got the better of his GSV-R colleague to take second position on lap nine of 22. By then Toni Elias was fast closing and the Ducati rider stripped Loris of second on lap 10, but Capirossi was able to keep a safe third place by four seconds over Shinya Nakano.

"I want to say what a fantastic day this is for me today!" said Capirossi, after his 99th podium. "After the injury in Barcelona I have not had the opportunity to go quick due to my condition, but all the people around me - including the whole team and Suzuki - stayed really close to me and gave me great support so I am really happy to pay them back with this podium - it actually feels more like a win for me because it means so much!

"After the break following Laguna, I was able to get some rest and start training again to get myself back in the best condition, and although I am still not 100% I am nearly there and I was able to challenge all weekend," he continued. "My dream this weekend was to fight for a podium, after Friday I felt I could do that and today I started with a good focus to do my best. This result is for all the team and everybody working with me, because when we make a great result I am really happy, and today I am certainly really happy!"

Both Capirossi and Vermeulen are expected to keep their Suzuki seats for next season and team manager Paul Denning was delighted that Capirossi had joined Vermeulen in claiming a 2008 rostrum finish.

"Everybody at Rizla Suzuki and back at the Factory are absolutely delighted for Loris that he has overcome the injuries that have restricted him in the last few grands prix - he has shown true fighting spirit. A podium is a great reward for his efforts and for his crew who have kept working so hard to help us move forward. Thanks to Loris and to them!" said Denning.

Having lost out to Capirossi, Vermeulen slipped further down the order with front tyre problems, but was able to adjust his riding style and salvage sixth position.

"I got a good start and was scrapping with the Kawasakis - which seemed like they were surprisingly fast today - and got held up by them a bit," recalled Chris. "I managed to get past Ant West and then started to catch John Hopkins, but I started to have some issues with front grip and had to change the way I was riding the bike.

"Once I got past John it felt like I had nothing left and the situation was getting worse - which was awful as the race was only about seven laps old!" he confessed. "I kept my head down and worked out the best way to ride and how to try to preserve the tyre. At one stage I thought about coming in, but I worked it out and managed to get home in sixth place to get some points. I'd like to congratulate Loris on his podium today. It was good to see him come back like that after his injury and I'm very happy for him."

"Early in the race it also looked like we had the potential for Chris to be challenging for the podium, but it wasn't to be," stated Denning. "I think today's conditions were a bit different to Friday afternoon and unfortunately both the guys - but to a larger extent Chris - suffered from that, making it difficult to keep a consistently fast pace throughout the race. Nonetheless, Chris adapted well and came back into the top-six at the end, and again his performance this weekend has been very strong and consistent."

Rizla Suzuki will join its rivals in remaining at Brno for a two-day test on Monday and Tuesday, where it is rumoured that a heavily revised version of the GSV-R will make an appearance.

"Whilst we're very happy with our third podium in succession, at the same time we have to be realistic and acknowledge that the gap to the winning pace is too big for comfort," said Denning, referring to the 21 second gap between Rossi and Capirossi.

"We know we have the riders and the crew to take the next step and we are looking forward to a very extensive test over the next two days, with a huge number of items to try, to help us close that gap as quickly as we can," he confirmed.