Andrea Dovizioso may have won three races this season, but his third-place in Sunday's Australian MotoGP was one of Ducati's most significant results of the year.

No Desmosedici rider even finished in the top ten at Phillip Island last season, with Dovizioso down in 13th and 22-seconds from victory.

But the Italian led for three laps on Sunday and took the chequered flag only 1.8s from race winner Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), with Suzuki's Andrea Iannone in-between.

"After a few laps I was first: I never expected that!" Dovizioso said.

In total, three Ducatis - the GP18s of Dovizioso and stand-in team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, plus the GP17 of Jack Miller - finished in the top seven.

"A lot of good things happened today," Dovizioso said. "I'm really happy. That was the last important test before the end of the season, because this is a track where we always struggled.

"So we confirmed, in every practice, our improvement over last year. The winglets, the set-up is different from last year and it worked. The improvement is big."

But despite the progress, it's far from mission accomplished for Ducati.

"Still it's not enough to really fight because in the middle of the corner I was too slow. We accelerate more in the main straight, but in some corners I couldn't exit with the right speed," Dovizioso explained.

"I was able to put myself in the right position, that gave me the chance to fight for the podium, but I really didn't have the same speed as these two riders [Vinales and Iannone].

"So we still have to continue to improve, because in some other parts we are really, really good, but still we are struggling in the middle of the corners."

Sunday's result also meant that, instead of conceding points to Valentino Rossi in their contest for second in the world championship, Dovizioso extended his advantage to 15-points with two rounds to go.

"It's good for the championship because Valentino is always there," Dovizioso said.

 

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