Franco Morbidelli confirmed Sunday’s impressive run to fifth place was his best performance in 21 races as a MotoGP rider, but demanded the Petronas Sepang Racing Team must continue working to achieve a podium finish.

The 2017 Moto2 world champion was unable to live with Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Ducati in the race’s final third, but held on resolutely to fend off Danilo Petrucci’s attentions to claim his best premier class result to date.

“Yes, it is,” replied Morbidelli when asked whether this was the best he had felt as a MotoGP rider since stepping up to class in 2018.

“I'm very, very happy about this fifth position. We were starting a bit too far, because yesterday we had not a great qualifying. But I was confident that I could be fast in the race today.

“So this is what I managed to do, catch up many positions. We bring this good result to Jerez, and we hope to do a good job also there.

“We need to work, we need to improve to get those 8 seconds here. Couple of seconds in Argentina. So we are missing something to get on the podium.”

Asked what he had learned from following other bikes throughout the 20 lap race, Morbidelli said, “Well, you can just see where the other bikes are better or are worse, and to fight with these guys is good, because you can learn their behavior, you can learn about them, you can learn about their bike, you can understand more how they act on the bike and how they act during the race.

“So this will be good when and if I will be capable of being on top, this will be very useful for the battle.”

Team-mate Fabio Quartararo’s top ten finish meant it was a successful day for the Petronas Sepang Racing Team, in only its third outing.

On the impact of team manager Wilco Zeelenberg to this success, Morbidelli offered, “Well, I find myself very good with Wilco. He's a former rider, he knows a lot and he has a lot of experience. He's a great guy. Very kind with us, and I find myself speaking with him a lot of time, about bikes and about settings and about stuff.

“It's very good, because he has a lot of experience, and he's carrying us on the right path, and I hope he will continue to do that.

“I think he knows it's always difficult to tell a rider what to do. So he knows that. But I understand that he tries to bring stuff without bringing it, you know what I mean?

“He tries to suggest but in a good way, and in a good manner. This is his experience, and this is his knowledge of the thing, and I really love working with him.”

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