Jorge Lorenzo admits he was pleasantly surprised by his consistency and outright speed, which carried him to the top of the MotoGP time sheets on Friday at Valencia.
Benefiting from Michelin's tyre allocation, that includes rears with a softer carcass compared to the three flyaway races, Lorenzo was close to a full second under the official lap record in FP2.
Pointing to the rear rubber, which is the same as that used in Barcelona in June, and the added grip offered up by the track, Lorenzo feels that only second fastest Marc Marquez is on a comparable level.
“[It was] Pretty good,” began the reigning world champion. “The tarmac here is quite grippy. Also the Michelin carcass here is the same as Brno, Misano and another track that I can't remember.
“It's not the same as the last three races where they bring harder carcasses to avoid overheating. With this carcass and this tarmac I felt very good. The feeling with a couple of the tyres is very good and the grip is good. So I felt great from this morning from the first laps.
“I always look smooth but sometimes it's not fast enough to be competitive enough. I was surprised. I was surprised by how competitive I've been today because in the last six or seven races I wasn't really competitive.
“I've just arrived here and have been quick, constant and with a good feeling. That's the tyre. I think Michelin and we need to work so they give us the best tyres for all the tracks. For the moment for this year it's been difficult.
“But when there's grip and I feel confident on the bike I've been competitive. I don't know if I have the best pace because this afternoon Marquez put in the hard rear tyre and I put the soft. But I am with Marc the one with the better pace, the faster one.”
Commenting on the new front tyre profile available this weekend that was previously tested at Brno, Lorenzo added, “To be honest I didn't feel as much difference as I did in Brno, when I tried them for the first time.
“For sure it wasn't worse. Probably there was better turning and there was more grip in the middle of the corner. We will try them again tomorrow.”
On the Yamaha M1's dealing with a lack of grip – the machine's Achilles Heel in 2016 – the 29-year old commented, “This year, compared to last year when we had the Bridgestone, we need to put a higher bike, shorter bike, because with the same bike as last year we don't have the grip in the corner on the rear.
“That creates other problems on the rear. We couldn't brake this year as hard as the previous years for that reason. The bike struggles a bit more when it's cold and the track has less grip. And especially in the wet, with a lot of water, it doesn't create as much grip as with the other factories.”