Andrea Dovizioso believes beating Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow over the remainder of 2012 will be fundamental to his ambitions of landing a factory MotoGP ride.
After losing his works Honda ride at the end of 2011 the Italian moved into Yamaha's satellite Tech 3 operation, with whom he has scored three podiums in the last four races.
Despite such form Dovizioso has made no secret of his desire to return to a factory ride for 2013, with the second seat at Yamaha - currently occupied by Spies – his objective.
"Beating Spies and Crutchlow is fundamental in view of next year," Dovizioso told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I can't dream of going for the title [in 2012] but I want to get close [to the top three riders], get on a works bike, and be ready next year.
"We'll know [about contracts] a bit more at Mugello, that's why I haven't thought about it yet. Now we'll sit around a table: I already have a scheduled meeting [with Lin Jarvis], even though we talk at every race he comes to.
"I have no indications to understand whether it's more a yes or a no. I'm confident because I don't see any particular reason why I shouldn't join the factory team. Should I fail that objective, we'll think of plan B. But that comes later..."
Dovizioso, currently fourth in the championship and the highest non-factory rider, said his Sachsenring podium was proof of how he was developing as a Yamaha rider.
"Perhaps it hasn't been my best podium-paying race, but surely it has been the most important," he said of his German Grand Prix podium. "For my entire career I struggled there. It's confirmation that we are working well ahead of the races.
"At the Sachsenring I managed to beat [Spies and Crutchlow] not in a fight, which I can do well, but on pace, with speed."
He said closing the gap to the lead trio remains his main objective at Mugello, although his form at the circuit last year – he finished as the top Honda rider in second, 0.9s behind winner Jorge Lorenzo – meant the podium was also a consideration.
"I'm going to Mugello with a lot of confidence: having been competitive in the last two races means I can be even more so. I must be confident and work well like last year, when I played for the win," he explained.
"I want to get close performance-wise. In the last two races I knew I wasn't as quick as them, while at Mugello I can be. Track position is important, but I want to go quick.
"I have a program that aimed for third place at both Assen and the Sachsenring, and I managed that. I have higher objectives for Mugello."