HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto believes LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl should start the 2013 season focussed purely on securing a first MotoGP podium.
The former Moto2 champion concluded his debut premier-class season eighth in the standings, having been a rostrum threat at several rounds - most notably when he fell moment after moving into third place at Aragon.
“Last year Bradl had the chance to step on the podium, but he missed it because of a crash,” said Nakamoto. “So the first goal this year is to step on the podium, then we can think about the next step.”
The podium may have slipped away, but the young German signed a contract extension directly with Honda shortly after the end of last season. Already on a two-year contract with LCR, Bradl is now signed until the end of 2014.
Included in the renewal was the promise of factory specification machinery, although it was not clear if this would kick in immediately or from 2014.
Asked about the engine and chassis status of Honda's four MotoGP riders - Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez at the factory Repsol team, plus Bradl at LCR and Alvaro Bautista at Gresini - Nakamoto replied:
“All four riders [have the] same specification”. The only difference so far being that “Dani has tested a different engine”.
For Bautista, starting his second season at Gresini, the main technical difference is the continued use of Showa rather than Ohlins suspension, as used by all other manufacturer riders.
“The Showa suspension has clearly improved since the test here at the end of last year and also Showa has further ideas,” declared Nakamoto.
Bradl finished sixth fastest at the opening Sepang test, 0.9s behind fastest man Pedrosa, with Bautista in seventh (+1.402s).