After taking a best finish of seventh during the opening eleven rounds of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, Toni Elias has now taken two podium finishes in a row after a second place at Brno was backed up by a 'more important' third at Misano on Sunday.
The Alice Ducati rider began the San Marino Grand Prix from a season's best fifth on the grid and finished the first racing lap in that same position, before getting the better of countryman and former world championship leader Dani Pedrosa on lap 6 of 28.
Fourth then became third following factory Ducati rider Casey Stoner's accident and Elias went on to finish 11.7secs behind race winner Valentino Rossi and 8.5secs from the Italian's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
"After Laguna Seca things have changed radically," smiled Toni. "I always had much better feeling with the bike and the results prove it. I hope to continue this way for the rest of the season. I would love to fight for the podium at each grand prix. I know it's not easy but I will try.
"I had a lot of fun here today even if this circuit, with all these turns, hard breaking and acceleration is really tiring. At one stage I tried to follow Lorenzo but I made some mistakes and I decided to hold on my position and that is when Pedrosa caught me up. Therefore I decided to calm down a bit and I found back my initial race rhythm," continued Elias, whose best race lap was 0.258secs quicker than Pedrosa. "I am really happy for this result also for the all Alice Team."
Although Elias had finished one place higher in the Czech Republic, the deficit to Rossi on that occasion had been 15 seconds, leading Alice technical director Fabiano Sterlacchini to call Sunday's result 'even more important'.
"Toni has basically been perfect apart some laps where he seemed to have some grip problem but after a little bit he made it to find back the initial rhythm," said Sterlacchini. "This way he made it to get some seconds of advantage from Pedrosa in fourth position. This podium is even more important compared to two weeks ago because we are much closer to the fastest riders and it is the confirmation that our group is doing a really good job."
Team-mate Sylvain Guintoli finished in eleventh position.
"Today we had many difficulties. I pushed at the maximum but lap times weren't going down. The race rhythm compared to yesterday wasn't as good and we still have to understand why," said the Frenchman. "I would like to conquer a good result this season for the Team and all the sponsors that have worked really hard this year. I will do my best in these last five races."
Guintoli's MotoGP future remains unclear, while Elias looks increasingly certain to remain in the premier-class - either at Alice or on a third Kawasaki run by countryman Jorge Martinez Aspar.