After a poor qualifying, Andrea Dovizioso delivered a ninth-to-third place charge to join victorious Ducati team-mate Danilo Petrucci on their home Italian MotoGP podium.

But Dovizioso's celebrations and happiness for Petrucci were tinged with regret at being narrowly beaten by title rival Marc Marquez, plus concern that the Spaniard was able to match the Ducatis at Honda's worst circuit.

"I’m really happy about the race. We did the race we wanted. We struggled a little bit during the weekend, but the feeling came back yesterday," said Dovizioso, who used Ducati's holeshot device to full effect as he stormed to second on the opening lap.

The Italian led the way just before the halfway stage of the 23-laps, when he seemed to be trying to slow the pace and conserve his tyres.

"In the race we were there. I did a perfect start. I put myself in the right position. I saved the tyre. I rode in a really good way for the conditions because it was very difficult for everybody. The temperature was so high," he said.

After joining Petrucci and Suzuki's Alex Rins in a breakaway lead group, Dovizioso and Marquez slipstreamed past Petrucci into turn one at the start of the final lap.

"I think I did a good strategy. I wanted to be first on the last lap from the first corner," Dovi said.

But just as Dovizioso was executing a pass on Marquez at the apex of turn one, Petrucci sliced under them both.

"Danilo overtook us very aggressive," he said. "I had to pick up the bike, Marc again closed the door and I had to release the throttle, so I lost position."

Dovizioso remained a close third to the chequered flag, unable to launch a pass on Marquez, who had switched his attention from attacking Petrucci to keeping his main title rival at bay.

"The grip was very low on the last lap to make something crazy. I try to analyse and make some strategy, but I couldn’t and in the last corner Rins almost overtook me," Dovizioso said.

"I'm sorry for Andrea, who couldn't pass Márquez back before the chequered flag, but he rode a fantastic race as well and a podium is always a great result," said Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna.

Summing up his mixed emotions, Dovizioso said: "Bad for the championship because we lose some points, but overall the race was good and I'm really happy about Danilo. I've said since the beginning of the season that he has the potential."

Having already warned that Ducati needed to 'find something' to fight Marquez in the championship, the Mugello battle confirmed Dovizioso's fears.

"I’m still not happy in the way we ride, because if Marc is battling with us at this race, it means in the middle of the corners we are still too slow," he explained.

"In acceleration and braking we are really good, but the reason Marc was able to stay with us is - because he’s a strong rider - but also in the middle of the corners he’s faster than us.

"With a worse tyre than us, he was able to stay with us until at the end.

"This is the bad part, because we have to improve something if we really want to fight for the championship. We are there. We will never give up until at the end, but it’s not enough [at the moment]. We need something more."

It wasn't just mid-corner where Marquez and Honda were impressive at Mugello, the latest RC213V is now able to slipstream past the Ducati, which had set a record-breaking speed of 356.7km/h (221.6mph) with Dovizioso in practice.

"I’m not surprised because, from Qatar, Honda showed that [they are very fast on the straight]," said Dovizioso. "Also, it's because he was able to exit very fast from the last corner. That plus his weight and his size help him on the straight, and he was able to stay with us."

Dovizioso, winner in Qatar, is now twelve points behind Marquez, despite the Honda rider's DNF in Austin.

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