An unexpectedly strong weekend at the inaugural Thai MotoGP ended with Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi third and fourth respectively, both crossing the line within 1.6s of ending Yamaha's record win drought.

Rossi, starting from the front row, was top Yamaha for 18 of the 26 laps - leading the race before being re-passed by Marc Marquez (Honda) and also Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) on lap 11.

The Doctor remained a part of the four-way lead group to the finish, but didn't have the pace to attack in the closing stages and lost out on a podium by just 1.1s to Vinales.

"For me, this is the best race for Yamaha in the second half of the season. This is so important," Rossi declared.

"It was a lot better, because we fight in the top group. At the end, unfortunately, we are always struggling a little bit too much with the tyres. But today we are not far.

"I'm not very happy because I want to try to go on the podium. But today Maverick was stronger."

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Rossi added that he didn't suffer physically in the extreme heat and described the grand prix as like a cycle race, with the field bunching together while conserving their tyres.

"I feel very good [physically] and I arrived at the end of the race with enough power to fight," he said. "But I tried for all the race to save the tyres, like everybody, because it's more like a cycle race now:

"Everybody waiting, sometimes one rider will push for two laps and all the other guys follow, but after they slow down and another one tries to lead. Now you never push for all the race.

"Unfortunately, I tried, but in the last laps I was more in trouble [with the tyres] and I miss these two or three tenths.

"During the weekend Maverick followed another way with the set-up. He was able to ride that type of bike and maybe saved the tyre in a better way. So Maverick was a bit stronger than me at the end."

While Rossi's best lap was just 0.029s from the new Buriram record by winner Marquez, it was set on lap 4. Vinales' best lap was 0.1s slower than Rossi, but set on lap 16.

Either way, Sunday marked Yamaha's first podium since before the summer break.

Now Rossi is eager to find out if Buriram was just a blip, or if Yamaha have found something to be competitive in all four remaining rounds.

"Now we need to understand how much is this track, or how much we improved the bike," Rossi explained.

"For me, on paper, this track was not a Yamaha track. I expected to suffer a lot more and to be, for example, stronger in Misano. But in Misano we struggled. So it's difficult to understand.

"But we feel better with the bike [here], me and also Maverick are strong. Maybe we improved a little bit, but now we have to see in Motegi.

"For me, more than the layout of a track, it’s the difference in the grip of the asphalt that helps us more or less at the moment.

"The next four races will be very important because we have to try to be stronger and competitive in all the different tracks. Because Honda and Ducati are strong everywhere."

Dovizioso is now 22-points clear of Rossi in the contest for second in the world championship behind Marquez, with Rossi in turn 26 ahead of Vinales.

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