Marc Marquez starts this weekend's French MotoGP at Le Mans holding a 17-point title lead over nearest rival Jorge Lorenzo.
In contrast to up and down form at the start of last season, Marquez is the only rider to have finished on the podium in all four races, including a third place behind the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo last time at Jerez.
That's better than many had predicted given Honda's pre-season struggles, and Marquez admits to feeling confident for this weekend, “knowing how far we've come since this winter and how quickly we've been able to react to many situations”.
But one of the RC213V's biggest weaknesses remains acceleration, something the stop-and-go Le Mans layout frequently requires. Although given how well he performed at Austin, Marquez is hoping he won't face too much of a disadvantage.
“I like the Le Mans track although it requires that you be ready to deal with many variables,” Marquez said. “To begin with, the weather: you never know what it will do there. Last year the temperature rose significantly on Sunday and we suffered a lot with front grip in the race. Rain also isn't unusual there.
“In addition, the track has a stop-and-go layout, with many slow turns where braking and acceleration are crucial. We'll see if we find ourselves in a situation similar to Austin, where acceleration out of slow corners was a lot better than expected, or if we have to face a bigger challenge.
“During the last test in Jerez, we worked a lot on electronics and the chassis setting to find more grip, and on the balance of the bike to reduce wheelies. It's always a compromise but I think we've gathered useful info for Le Mans.”
Marquez qualified on pole at Le Mans last season, but struggled with his front tyre on a hot race day, eventually finishing fourth after a hard battle with Andrea Iannone.