Marc Marquez's MotoGP domination aside, Valentino Rossi feels that Honda has 'found something' with its RC213V this year.
Reigning champion Marquez has won all ten races this season, with team-mate Dani Pedrosa currently second in the world championship. Factory Yamaha riders Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are third and fourth.
“We improved the bike a little bit but we have a lot, a lot of areas still to improve because for me - looking from the track - already the Honda was very fast last year but the difference was less,” Rossi explained. “They found something this year in the electronic and also in the chassis that improved a little bit and increased the gap with our bike.
“We are not so far but in some areas we have to work. We push a lot always Yamaha to improve. It looks like we stress the rear tyre a bit more compared to them. At the end [of the race] is is always difficult and also Marc rides very well.”
Rossi has finished runner-up to Marquez at four rounds with Lorenzo second-best at two events, including last Sunday at Indianapolis.
“Like Vale said, we've improved a little bit the bike,” said Lorenzo. “Now the bike is more constant to ride, more stable in acceleration, more easy to keep a constant pace until the final laps. “But yeah, it seems like the Honda still has something more. Especially in braking. They can brake very late and lean the bike [in the corner] very soon. In that area we still need to work a lot in the future.”
Among the 2014 improvements to the M1 is an upgraded seamless shift gearbox and the ability to mimic the 'clutch-less' downshifts on the Honda.
“We still have positive points like corner speeds, but unfortunately it is not enough to fight at this moment on all occasions with them,” continued Lorenzo. “On a changing track or humid track they can also find a better set-up in the first moments.
“But to be honest I think at Indianapolis, I'm sure I could stay with Marc [to the end] like in Mugello if I didn't brake so early. When Valentino passed Dovizioso they [made contact] and lost some seconds. I went into second place but suddenly they passed me [back]. If I could have managed to stay in second place then probably I could stay with Marc to the end because our lap times were really close.
“I was not aggressive enough at that point and that's why I finished a bit far from Marc.”