Starting from fifth, the new Bridgestone rider did not get the best of starts and finished the first lap in sixth, but he soon settled into a good rhythm and was stalking Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, then in second, by lap three.

On the next lap he passed the home hero and set off after fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda rider proved untouchable, but Rossi sat comfortably in second until crossing the line at the end of the penultimate lap, when he mistakenly thought the race had finished and began celebrating!

Rossi quickly realised his error and luckily had enough of a cushion over star rookie Lorenzo to hang on to second, eventually finishing 2.883 seconds behind Pedrosa.

"I'm really happy with this podium because, even though it hasn't been so many races since the last one, it's been quite a lot of months!" confessed the five-time MotoGP world champion. "I am also very happy to have reached 100 podiums in MotoGP; now I am wondering if I can get to 200!

"It's a pity we couldn't win today and maybe I was a little bit too cautious at the start because I wanted to take care of my tyres, but in the end they worked very well from start to finish and so this is great for the future," he explained. "It's always better to win but after the poor result in Qatar this is a very important second place to us, also because it's my first podium with Bridgestone."

Rossi has now moved up to third in the championship, after two of 18 rounds, five points behind Lorenzo and ten from Pedrosa.

"My bike and tyres are working very well, we're third in the championship with a very long way to go and I'm feeling quite confident."

"We want to look at this race in Jerez as the start of our championship," declared team manager Davide Brivio. "Of course we still have a lot to learn about the Bridgestone/Yamaha combination, but I think both parties did an excellent job here and Valentino rode a great race and kept a very consistent rhythm.

"[On Monday] we will have one day of testing and we will do our best in order to be in good shape for Estoril," he added. "This is Valentino's 100th podium and also the first one with Bridgestone, so it's a special day, but we hope that there will be many others!"

"It is great that Yamaha and Valentino have taken their first podium using our tyres," said Bridgestone's Hiroshi Yamada. "It was even more pleasing that Valentino was the first of the four Yamaha riders to finish the race, so congratulations to them."

The next best Bridgestone rider after Rossi was Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi, who finished in fifth place - some 25 seconds behind The Doctor's M1.