MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo may have been only seventh on the end-of-test timesheets at Sepang, but he feels in real terms only two riders are quicker.
They are Repsol Honda team-mates Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, who were first and second on all three days of the second and final Malaysian pre-season test.
“I feel happy with Yamaha because they improve the bike quite a lot, so we are much better than last year and can go much faster. The problem is that our competitors have improved much more than us,” summed up Lorenzo.
On paper, Lorenzo left Sepang 1.338sec slower than Stoner, but those best lap times were set using soft tyres and the Spaniard feels the true difference is less than half that amount.
“In the race simulation I felt good, physically and also very consistent throughout the 20 laps. I was nearly always in 2min 1.7sec. I think only Dani and Casey can be faster than us at the moment, so it's not bad,” he said.
“We are, at this track, around half a second slower than Dani and Casey.
“But if you look at the race simulation that Simoncelli and Dovizioso [see separate story] made. They were very fast at the beginning, but at the end they could not stay in the 2min 1sec.
“So this is our best point and if we can improve some tenths we can fight for the win in Qatar and other tracks.
“The main problem is the traction and the engine. We've improved the traction, but not enough, and the engine is not fast enough.”
Lorenzo conceded that the layout of the Sepang track plays more to the strengths of the Honda, but still feels the M1 is 'a little behind'.
“You know, I would like to win more-or-less the same races as last year, but it's going to be very complicated at the moment,” said the Spaniard, preparing to start his fourth season in MotoGP.
“Things can change a lot though and perhaps in the middle of the year we will have some new pieces.