After an encouraging opening day at the Malaysian MotoGP, Valentino Rossi analysed the current performance advantage of Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
Rossi was fourth quickest in Friday practice, a fraction slower than fastest M1 rider Cal Crutchlow, but almost one-second behind pace setter Pedrosa.
“Cal beat me by a bit, but it looks like behind the two Hondas I am the strongest, also for [race] pace. The problem is that the factory Hondas are very, very fast,” said Rossi.
“We have to try the maximum, not give up, and try to improve. But for me they have an advantage. They are too fast: Pedrosa a 2m 0.5s, but also Marquez... and in the rhythm they are faster than me.
“Anyway in the last few races Jorge was able to fight with the Hondas, so we have to try. But it will be very hard.”
The seven time MotoGP champion feels that the RC213V now has the edge in many areas - such as power, fuel and straight-line speed, aided by two very fast ("and small") riders - but highlighted corner entry as the biggest advantage.
“Our bike is fantastic, but behaves more like a normal bike," Rossi stated. “We continue to be very fast in the longer corners. But Honda has found something special for the small corners. They can make a different line into the corners, they turn very quickly and follow the inside - sometimes they almost turn too much!
“Our bike has good balance and now with the seamless gearbox we don't lose a lot in acceleration. But the Honda is more 'tight' in the corners and can use the acceleration. It looks like their bike [is built around] this type of tyre, our bike is more normal.
“Before in braking and entry the Yamaha was always very fast. Until Brno last year when Honda found something very good and this year they made another step. It looks like they can use the front tyre in a better way compared to us - that is how it looks by following. I don't know if it's true.”
Rossi added: “Our seamless gearbox does not help to be smoother into the corners, but the Honda - yes. I think they have the same [smoothness] when they shift down [as when they shift up].
“We are working a lot with the Japanese engineers on our seamless. The new gearbox is fast but still has some 'shock' when you change gears. But this is normal, we've only had it for three races and Honda have had it for three years.
“But the Honda advantage is not just from the gearbox, also the chassis setting.”