A strong start and impressive opening lap allowed Dani Pedrosa to briefly hold a podium place in Sunday's home Spanish MotoGP.
But team-mate Marc Marquez soon took third back and Pedrosa, no higher than fourth in the previous track sessions, ultimately finished 3.5s behind his fellow Repsol Honda rider.
It meant that, for the first time since joining the premier-class in 2006, Pedrosa failed to finish on the podium at Jerez.
Although he claimed a fortuitous third after the Ducati debacle in Argentina, Pedrosa didn't sugar coat the fact that he still simply doesn't have the pace to challenge at the front in the new Michelin/single ECU era.
“From the winter time I'm struggling with the bike set-up to do the faster laps. I can do a standard pace, but it's always a little bit off the top pace. So never been really close to the top in any practice sessions or any moment in the championship yet,” he declared.
“I knew I had to do a good start and push from the beginning, it was good because it was the first thing to achieve starting from seventh on the grid. So I was happy with that and this reminded me that the skill is there.
“After that, I knew the top three guys had better pace than me, so I tried to follow, but I could see I can't really. Then I settled on fourth, which was the best position I can get because of the situation, and focussed on trying to save my tyres.
“I don't think you can get much more out of the current situation. We did the best job we could.”
after struggling with the new ECU during winter testing Pedrosa, the lightest rider on the grid, appears to have been among the hardest hit by stiffer construction rear tyres introduced after Scott Redding's incident in Argentina.
The #26 confirmed he was one of the riders to suffer from unusual straight-line wheelspin in the 27 lap race.
“The tyres were quite difficult, in the main straight and the back straight, the centre of the tyre was spinning in third, fourth and fifth. Around 70 percent of the race was like riding in the rain, with the throttle, with the gears, with the lean angle, everything super smooth.
“I had several problems. One is the bike set up, obviously I am not finding the right things for the problem. But obviously with less grip on the rear [due to the stiffer construction], I have additional problems.”
Although wheelspin/low grip has been an issue in previous years at Jerez, Sunday's race was won at a pace 30-seconds slower than in 2015 (on Bridgestone tyres). Pedrosa called on the manufacturers and Michelin to try and reach a solution.
“I didn't watch the race, but I guess it was quite a boring race. The race was quite slow, the pace and the race time,” he said. “I think maybe in such seasons, some factories and the tyre manufacturer need to come up with some ideas, because I don't think the problem comes from the bikes.
“So need to get some improvement, either by changing some rules and allowing more tests for Michelins that they can apply some changes and we can test them. Or do something, the championship must do something. Because I don't think it's quite interesting like that.”
One suggestion is for two different types of rear tyre construction to be made available: “I think it's a good idea. Anyway, everyone would like a softer construction.”
Pedrosa is fourth in the world championship, with less than half the points of title leader Marquez, who is currently the only rider able to run up front on the RC213V.
By Peter McLaren