After three MotoGP races without a Honda rider on the podium, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Toni Elias all feel they have the potential for a US GP rostrum finishing after qualifying fourth, fifth and sixth at Laguna Seca.
All three were separated by just 0.033sec and within half a second of pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo. Added to that, question marks over the physical fitness of both Lorenzo and third on the grid Casey Stoner mean the RCV riders have an excellent chance of a top three.
Pedrosa, who took second place on his Laguna Seca debut in 2006 but missed last year's race due to injury, is the only Honda rider to finish on the podium so far this year and is confident of getting away with the leaders.
“Fourth on the grid is not bad - I would have liked to be on the front row of course but fourth is ok,” he said. “For tomorrow I'd like to improve our race pace by about three tenths per lap and that's what we'll work on in the warm-up.
“We did a lot of laps today on the tyres we're planning to race on and this was one of our targets this weekend so I'm satisfied with that. It's a short lap here and there isn't any chance to rest which is going to make it a tough race tomorrow.
“In the sessions today I was mostly riding on a clear track, so I'm confident that if I can get away with the front group then this will help my rhythm and pace even more.”
Team-mate Dovizioso was held up by the accidents suffered by Lorenzo and Stoner, but is positive about his chances as he seeks to claim his first podium in Repsol colours.
“I think I have a good race pace and starting from the second row is not bad,” said Dovi. “Towards the end of qualifying I think I could have gone even quicker with the last soft tyre but I was on track when Lorenzo crashed so I had to slow down because there were yellow flags.
“Anyway I'm happy with qualifying and tomorrow we'll aim to make a good start and stay with the leaders. In the heat of the race I think I should be able to grit my teeth and shave a few more tenths from my lap time too.”