Maverick Viñales was pleased with a set-up improvement on the final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang and feels that further electronics improvements will allow him to challenge the likes of Andrea Iannone and Marc Marquez.
The 2015 rookie of the year posted the tenth best time on Wednesday, which was good enough to be the twelfth fastest rider over the three days, while using his 2015 chassis around Suzuki's new engine.
His final time was considerably quicker than he was on Bridgestone tyres at the Malaysian track last October, and believes that should Suzuki sort through the engine braking-electronics related issues, he could be on the level of the likes of Ducati and Honda.
“If we can work a little bit more harder and find something more in the electronics I think we can be close to the top,” said the 21-year old. “Some like Jorge and Valentino are quite strong at the moment but to be with Marc and Iannone, that are riding fast all the time, we can be quite close.
“For sure. I'm really, really happy. But I'm more happy because in the last part of the day we found the way to ride fast. I was struggling in 2m 2s then I found something I was immediately into the 2m 1 medium. Only with used tyre I was in 2m 1 medium/high so I think from there we made a really big step.
“I mean, the new electronics are really difficult still. We are really struggling with the engine brake but we need to work hard, it's important to have good engine brake to stop the bike. Then in the acceleration it's really bad because you cannot put the wheels where you want.
“Anyway, I think during these days we improved a lot. We made big steps and still I think we have a lot of potential. It is many positive things but also negatives. We need to make the negatives positive and then we can be quite strong.”
Both Viñales and team-mate Aleix Espargaro tested Suzuki's new chassis but neither preferred it to the previous model, with the latter claiming it was close to half a second slower around a single lap.
“Honestly if we can make the 2016 [version] turn I will go to it because I have more grip,” said Viñales. “The only problem I had last year was the grip, because I was struggling a lot. Still I think with the 2015 I can find the grip and it could be a perfect chassis for us and my riding style.”
A rider who developed an instant liking for the new feel offered up by Michelin's front tyre, Viñales was still seeking more grip from the rear tyre in the Malaysian heat.
“Really I like the front a lot. It's only that the rear, like last year, we are struggling on the grip. At Valencia there was really incredible grip because it was a really soft tyre, the ground was quite new and it had grip. There the bike was turning and it was really easy to do.
“Here with the hard tyre, after yesterday they took away the soft, it's more difficult. But I'm happy that today we were more fast than the Bridgestones were. From this I am happy and that we are quite close with the hard tyre.”