Honda and Yamaha each claim the other currently has the better 1000cc bike, with just one test session remaining before the start of the 2012 MotoGP season.
Honda's reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner may have been fastest in both of the Sepang tests but, speaking midway through the final day of last week's session, HRC executive vice president Shuhei Nakamoto said of the new Yamaha:
“Very, very fast! This is a big problem for us.”
On the same level as Honda?
“No, even better!”
Nakamoto had a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he said those words, but further comments about the strength of the Yamaha chassis are sure to touch a nerve with HRC's designers, battling to solve an ongoing chatter (vibration) problem with the new RC213V.
“Yamaha historically has a very good handling machine... and now again!” said Nakamoto. But he agreed that Honda usually has more power and thinks “the situation [now] is the same.”
However “the overall package” of the Yamaha is currently better, he insisted.
Asked in detail about Honda's persistent chatter issue, Nakamoto explained: “The change to the new  tyres gave us a very bad chattering problem.
“We tried to fix the chattering problem from the Brno test [in mid-August]. We changed the chassis specification at the Motegi test - when Marco [Simoncelli] tested - then again we changed at Valencia test, and again at Sepang I. We are still investigating to fix this problem.”
Highlighting the complexity of the issue is that they are trying to solve three
different types of vibration during cornering.
“The chatter only occurs in cornering. Not braking. But we have three different types of chatter: Corner entry, middle and then exit. The frequency [of the vibration] is different for each - for example low frequency, high frequency, then back to low again.”
Asked if Honda would need to build another chassis to improve the issue for the start of the year, Nakamoto replied: “I don't know. Unfortunately Honda never make a very good handling chassis historically! I want it, but..."