Dani Pedrosa released the pressure on his shoulders to prove that his mid-season tyre switch was the correct decision by finishing on the podium in only his second race with Bridgestone, in Honda's home Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Motegi event was also only his second race with the pneumatic-valve RC212V, but Pedrosa put on a confident race day performance, seizing the lead early in the race and remaining at the head of the field until a tight pass by Casey Stoner on lap six allowed both the Australian and eventual winner Valentino Rossi to move ahead.

Thereafter, Pedrosa rode a relatively lonely race - until being caught by arch-rival Jorge Lorenzo in the closing stages. The Fiat Yamaha rookie made light contact with Pedrosa on the final lap, but Dani held on to secure his first podium since June's Dutch TT.

"Third place was not so bad today, though of course I tried to be faster," he said. "I have had some difficult races recently and some injuries, so it was a good feeling to be competitive again.

"I wasn't so fast at the beginning of the race, I expected to be faster. Later on I was able to improve my pace, my times got better lap by lap, so I am happy about that.

"My pitboard told me that Lorenzo was coming, I got 'plus zero', 'plus zero', 'plus zero'. I expected him to get faster because he was chasing me. On the last lap he touched me but I was able to stay on the bike.

"My thanks to Honda and to Bridgestone. Also congratulations to Valentino [on his sixth MotoGP title], he rode a great race," Pedrosa concluded.

"Dani did a good job this weekend, always improving his race pace, always coming better, until he was fast enough to lead the race and finish on the podium," said team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "This is a great result considering that this was his first dry race with a new bike and tyres. Next race we hope he can go for the win. I would also like to offer my congratulations to Valentino for his championship victory."

Pedrosa, second in the 2007 world championship, is currently eleven points behind runner-up Stoner in the 2008 standings, with three rounds to go.

Pedrosa's Michelin shod team-mate Nicky Hayden, who gave the 'pneumatic' its first podium finish at the wet Indianapolis Grand Prix, finished fifth.