This season will see former World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss break his long time Ducati links with a move to the satellite Camel Honda team for the 2005 MotoGP World Championship.
After testing an RC211V at three different circuits - Jerez, Sepang and Phillip Island - Bayliss began well, but then suffered some much publicised problems at the two Sepang tests before appearing to take a step in the right direction last time out in Australia.
"For me the switch from Ducati to Honda is a bigger change than coming from Superbikes to MotoGP," commented Troy. "But it is a challenge which I am ready to take on and it gives me a lot of motivation.
"Occasionally it's still a bit of a strange feeling because at the end of the day Honda has been the rival bike for such a long time," he continued. "But the team is fantastic and we're already getting a good rapport going. There's a really good team spirit – not just with Sito, Santi, Ramon and my mechanics but also with Alex and his team.
"It's incredible how hard everybody is working to help me find a better feeling with the bike, which is still a fast machine capable of winning races, as the lap times of my factory colleagues have shown and the times I set myself in Spain at the end of 2004.
"The first stage of our pre-season preparations has definitely had high and low points, with great results at Jerez and a few too many difficulties at Sepang. But Malaysia has never been one of my favourite tracks and things went a lot better the following week at Phillip Island," he added
Bayliss admits that he still needs to improve in several areas of set-up, but stressed that he has plenty of time to adapt for Sepang and draws comfort from his previous Jerez performance.
"At the end of the day the season starts at Jerez, where we looked strong, whilst Malaysia is towards the end of the season and we will have had a lot of time to get ready for that race," he smiled.
Meanwhile, the Camel Honda team will be back on track at the Losail circuit in Qatar, alongside several other top MotoGP teams, for three days of tests which starts tomorrow (Tuesday)