Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner says it was worth the risk to make a comeback at the Japanese Grand Prix despite not being fully recovered from surgery on his right ankle.
The Honda rider, due to retire from MotoGP racing at the end of the season, finished fifth on Sunday having missed the previous three races because of his injury.
"This weekend I slightly got my confidence back up," the Australian said.
"During the race, I had the pace to run with the front guys, probably not for the whole race. But we definitely had the pace and that's good."
The 2007 and 2011 world champion crashed in qualifying for the Indianapolis MotoGP on August 19 but still raced there to finish fourth.
He underwent surgery on August 30 on torn ligaments and fractures to his ankle, tibia and fibula.
Stoner, who turns 27 on Tuesday, said: "(The accident) made me a lot more cautious, especially to come back here. I didn't really want to crash. Anything I do to my foot can send us back a long way."
The Japanese GP was won by his factory Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa from Yamaha's championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, keeping alive Pedrosa's hopes to lift his first premier-class title.
The two Spaniards and Stoner have, between them, won every race this season; Lorenzo claiming six, Pedrosa five and Stoner four.
The Australian's absence pushed him out of title contention with just three races remaining but he still sits third in the points, five ahead of Yamaha's Italian Andrea Dovizioso.
He has vowed to go full throttle to end his MotoGP career on a high, especially later this month at his home race on Phillip Island where has has triumphed for five straight years.
Stoner, still limping, admitted his body "started to suffer and ache in ways I didn't expect" during the race at Motegi.
He could not put enough weight on the front and his bike suffered a "huge amount of chatter (vibration after braking)" as he protected his right foot, which is still undergoing extensive treatment.
"We had the pace to run a lot higher and get on the podium," he said. "Unfortunately, just physically, I couldn't manage this situation. I'm a little bit disappointed."
Stoner, who had initially planned to come back at the Australian GP, said that his Japan outing might help him for the rest of the series which will end in Valencia, Spain, on November 11.
"Maybe, this bit of work will be good for it. We'll come to the next race and might be better. I can only hope that much."
The next round will be fought on Sunday at Sepang, Malaysia, where Stoner won in 2007 and 2009.The free-flowing circuit should be a little easier on his body compared to the stop-start Motegi track.