Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa says he needs to improve significantly in qualifying to boost his chances of finishing in the MotoGP top three.
Pedrosa, at the centre of speculation that he will switch to Yamaha in 2017, finished fourth in an incident-strewn race at Le Mans in France, where the remaining Honda riders including team-mate Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller and Tito Rabat all crashed out.
The 30-year-old said he chose a softer front tyre that his fellow Honda riders but was unsure if that was the key reason for their slip offs.
“I choose a different front from them, a little bit softer. I did struggle more at the beginning with a full tank but I didn't crash at the end,” Pedrosa said.
“One part of the race is also to finish and maybe it's one of the reasons, I don't know – not only the Honda crashed. For me at the beginning, after the Moto2 race, yes – I didn't feel any grip. Everybody else in front of me was faster.
“I was even losing ground because I lost so much on the exit but I cannot push in the braking, as I did at the end, because of the full tank and the slippery feeling,” he added.
“After that the riders start to crash and obviously I see the crashes in front. I know I have to be careful. But at the same time my pace was constant.”
Pedrosa qualified down in 11th place on the fourth row and admits his starting position left him with a mountain to climb in the race.
“Very hard race, especially because the aim is to be in the front,” he said. “It's very difficult to be in the front when you do a bad qualifying like I did. I say the same every race and I try my best every qualifying.
“It looks like the more I try the worse I get so I will try to relax for the next qualifying and hope to make a better one and be more in the front.
“It's so important to start in front because so many riders are able to do a quick lap but then the race pace is not the same for everyone. I'm stuck behind some riders that aren't faster in the race,” added Pedrosa.
“Unfortunately when I start the race I had no good grip. I could feel the track was not good or the tyres were not ready, whatsoever. I tried to push but I lose so much time in acceleration out of the turn.
“I had the two satellite Yamahas and the two Suzukis and maybe someone else. Every exit I lost two or three tenths. I can make up a lot of difference and time in the braking but, as I said, I was doing like elastic, back and forward, back and forward all the lap for many laps,” he said.
“When the bike started to feel a little less empty in the tank with better safety feeling I reduced the lap time. It's already one big part of the race that's gone and it's already too stretched out.
“We needed to make that gap to the front, and it's almost impossible. I did some aggressive moves because as I was losing so much on the exit I cannot be so close to make a pass. I lost some laps because of that.”
On the rumours over his future in MotoGP, Pedrosa said the speculation was not 'ideal' but said it was something he had to accept.
“Obviously it's not ideal. It's not like when your mind is set only for the race,” he said. “I cannot lie but it's the moment. There is nothing to do.”