It's not often that Valentino Rossi is the victim of superior tactics by a rival rider, but he felt that was the case at Estoril on Sunday, when a 'strategically perfect' Andrea Dovizioso snatched fourth place from him just metres before the finish.

Rossi rose from ninth to fourth during a hectic opening lap and he remained just in front of Dovizioso for almost the entire 28 laps.

That was until the Repsol Honda rider coolly slipstreamed past Rossi's Ducati on the dash to the finish line.

"Apart from Dovizioso, today went well!" said Rossi. "I'm joking, but Andrea obviously rode a race that was strategically perfect. I think he played with me a little, knowing that on the straight, he could probably beat me to the line.

"He couldn't pass me because I was strong on the brakes, so he had me do all the work for 28 laps before making his attempt, and he got me by twenty-five thousandths."

However, Dovizioso revealed the pass was more reactive than rehearsed.

"I was riding at the limit during the whole race and Valentino was stronger in 2-3 points so it was difficult to overtake him," he said. "I pushed hard to keep contact with him and at the very last lap I tried to overtake him at turn 10, even if I knew that it's a difficult corner to overtake.

"Then at the very last long corner I tried to overtake him inside, Vale closed the door so I tried to exit faster than him, I made it and I could overtake him in the straight with the draft."

Fifth place matched Rossi's result in the wet at Jerez, when he rejoined after a fall, and is 'the best he can do' at the moment.

"Apart from that, the team and I are very happy, because it was a nice race and this, for the time being, is the best we can do," said the seven time MotoGP champion. "I started well, I made up several positions, and then I was very consistent, with decent times. I practically did the same lap from qualifying for 28 laps, so it's a good result.

"My only disappointment is that fourth would have been my best finish with the Ducati.

"Anyway, another positive is that I'm physically well, as I'm missing just fifteen percent of my strength, but I think I'll be at 100 percent between Le Mans and Catalunya. As for the bike, there's certainly still work to do, but we're working together with the Ducati technicians.

"They're pleased with the data they have, and I'm seeing that what I get from the racing department works. It will take some time, but we're going forward.

"Tomorrow [Monday] we'll have some new things to try, so let's hope that it's dry, and we'll see how it goes. We don't expect to solve everything in seven hours, just to continue down the path we've started on together."

Rossi finished 16.555sec from victory and set the fifth fastest race lap.

"Valentino had a good start and a nice race: we were very consistent with the times, and the gap to the front was reduced, which indicates that the work we're doing on the GP11 is going in the right direction," said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi.



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