Andrea Dovizioso believes the strength of the Honda challenge witnessed during winter testing is partly fuelled by rivalry between the four factory RCV riders.
2007 world champion Casey Stoner has joined Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa in an expanded Repsol Honda Team for this season, with an additional factory bike being supplied to Gresini's Marco Simoncelli.
The four days of 2011 testing so far have been led by Stoner, Pedrosa, Simoncelli - during the first Sepang test - and then Stoner again on Tuesday's opening day of the second test.
There have also been at least three Honda riders in the top five on each day of testing.
asked Dovizioso what he thinks is behind such strong form.
“Already the bike was good at the end of last season, but we made another step at the test in Valencia and the motivation of the riders this year is bigger than last year,” he replied.
“For all four factory riders it is so important to be the leading Honda.
“This gives more motivation and the lap times at the first test were amazing. So many riders were so fast. This is the reason.”
Pedrosa appeared to agree with Dovizioso:
“At the end of last year the bike was quite good and I was riding good before the crash [at Motegi], but of course when everybody improves his level you have to improve yours.”