By Peter McLaren
After a nightmare 2007 season with the one-rider Konica Minolta Honda outfit, Shinya Nakano
is aiming to bounce back in 2008 - but the first target is simply to get his confidence back.
"My main target this year is to get my confidence back," the Japanese told Crash.net
at Sepang. "I lost my confidence last year."
Nakano, a triple 500cc/MotoGP podium finisher and former 250cc title runner-up, finished just 17th in the 2007 world championship, with a best race finish of tenth on a Michelin-shod satellite RC212V.
Shinya's switch to the multi-race wining Honda Gresini outfit means not only a doubling of available data, but also a return to Bridgestone tyres, which he steered as a factory Kawasaki rider from 2004-2006.
"Gresini are a good team and also their bike setting suits my style, although now we are here with the new bike we have to start again with the set-up because the balance has changed. We struggled a bit on the first day but step-by-step the lap time has got better and better. I'm happy with our race settings.
"There's not so much difference between our '07 and '08 bikes, but the team have a good base from last year and with two riders we get more information. At the moment we have the new chassis with the old engine. Our new engine is coming at the Jerez IRTA test.
"I still remember my favourite Bridgestone tyres," he revealed. "Bridgestone tyres suit my style because they give me more confidence with the front. But we still need to select the best tyres for us, because some are good for the Honda and some are not."
Nakano, who will race alongside MotoGP rookie Alex de Angelis
in 2008, finished last week's Sepang test with the twelfth fastest lap time and claimed to be impressed - but not overly worried - by what he saw from the new factory machines.
"The Yamaha seems very smooth for the rider and all the factory teams look competitive," he declared. "But like I said our engine is from last year and so I think our times are quite good. I'm not so worried."
de Angelis finished the test 0.19secs slower than Nakano.