MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo is expecting a tough weekend after finishing fifth fastest on the Honda-dominated Friday practice timesheets for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lorenzo, who trails Casey Stoner by 44 points in the standings, was 0.520sec behind Repsol Honda pace setter Dani Pedrosa. Stoner was second quickest, followed by fellow factory RCV riders Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli.
“We improved the lap time quite a lot from the morning to the afternoon session but it's still not enough, the competition is very strong here. It is going to be a very difficult weekend to fight for the podium and the victory," warned Lorenzo.
"We are trying some things on the bike to improve the stability on braking and into corners. We found a little but still need to find some more! We are fifth which could be worse today.”
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg confirmed that braking stability and edge grip are the two main areas for improvement.
“The first day is not really that bad, we look worse on the time sheets than we really are," he claimed. "Jorge's consistency is good which is important. We are missing a little on braking stability and edge grip. We are looking forward to tomorrow, we need to solve these two things but we have a good pace. We need to improve but there is space to do that.”
Team-mate Ben Spies only rode for five laps this afternoon, due to food poisoning picked up on the way from America.