Triple title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso's first MotoGP race since November 2020, and first on a Yamaha since 2012, ended with 21st and last at Misano on Sunday.

After a long-lap penalty for exceeding track limits, the Italian finished 42.587s behind race winner Francesco Bagnaia and five-seconds from KTM's Miguel Oliveira.

However, Dovizioso was able to experiment and pick up his pace during the race, including an official best lap of 1m 33.493s (+1.251s from flying rookie Enea Bastianini) on 16 of 27.

That was marginally quicker than fellow returnee Franco Morbidelli, making a debut for Monster Yamaha following knee surgery, whose ex-2019 spec Petronas bike Dovizioso is riding for the remainder of the season.

But Dovizioso then set an even better 1m 33.231s with just two laps of the race remaining, equivalent to the pace of riders inside the top ten at that time.

That lap was officially 'cancelled' for exceeding track limits, but in the final sector where Dovi touched the green paint he was actually 0.006s slower than on a previous 'clean' lap.

Had the lap time counted, Dovizioso's best of the race would have been +0.989s from Bastianini - faster than team-mate Valentino Rossi (on the Factory-spec M1), KTM riders Danilo Petrucci and Oliveira (riding with a winglet missing), as well as Morbidelli.

"The race has been good to learn and to have feedback, because before the race I didn't have the speed to stay with the group. I was minimum half-a-second slower, but in the race I was able to stay there," Dovizioso said. "And especially when I did a mistake and had to do the long lap, after that my pace improved a lot.

"I was able to be much faster than the practice, and I did my best lap, 2 laps to the end. Because the feeling with the bike changed during the race, I tried a lot of things during the race and I had a lot of good feeling in some areas.

"Now I have to put everything together, and especially try to explain as much and as well as I can to the team, to put everything together. Because the braking point is where I was struggling in the practice, and in the last part of the race it was much better.

"But we have to understand why, what we have to do. Then after, I can work a bit more in the middle of the corner, the exit, and use more the potential of the bike."

While Morbidelli put the Petronas bike on the podium prior to his knee injury, subsequent replacements Garrett Gerloff, Cal Crutchlow and Jake Dixon were - like Dovizioso on Sunday - unable to finish in the points.

But to put that into perspective, Misano was the third race in a row where world championship leader Fabio Quartararo was the only Yamaha rider in the top 15.

"I can't know, and I don't know, how different this [A-Spec] is to the Factory bike, how much and exactly what is the difference. But apart from that, only Fabio is doing something crazy [on the Yamaha]," said Dovizioso.

"You can see how Fabio is riding. You have to brake really deep, in a good way, and you have to carry a lot of speed in the middle of the corners. It's the only way to use the potential of the bike, because the bike requests this.

"So this is particular [to the Yamaha], because not many bikes in the MotoGP class you have to ride like this. Maybe Suzuki, but all the others, no."

Dovizioso, who struggled with the latest Michelin rear tyre construction during his final season at Ducati, is now keen to find out exactly why he was so fast at the end of the race.

"The question mark I had before this weekend about the new rear tyre casing from last year, I still have," he said. "Because in the way you have to brake is a bit strange. And the way the bike improves a lot in the last part of the race is a bit strange.

"So that's why it's very important to analyse and understand if it was more me, the bike, what changed in the bike during the race. For me, everything is new, so I can't know exactly the reason why a lot of things happened.

"But in the race, there were many times I had a really good feeling and I felt the good things of the bike. That was good, that was important.

"After 10 months away, to do that consistent race and at the end of the race I was faster, I'm happy. It was also the best way to prepare for this week's test."

Dovizioso not only has a MotoGP seat for the remainder of this season but has signed, directly with Yamaha, to ride a factory-spec M1 for the restructured satellite team next season.

"Yes, this is the team I will be racing with next year with a factory bike," he confirmed.

The Misano test takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday.