Shinya Nakano has targeted another top six result ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix after a fine performance last time out in Australia.
The Japanese rider put in what team manager Fausto Gresini describes as 'his best performance of the season' to finish fifth at Phillip Island as he continues to get acquainted with the 2009-specification satellite Honda RC212V.
The result has lifted him up to ninth in the overall standings, making him the highest placed of the riders yet to secure any kind of deal for 2009.
Nonetheless, Nakano is retaining confidence heading to the penultimate round of the 2008 MotoGP season, and has targeted another good result aboard the San Carlo Gresini machine.
"We all know Sepang really well because we do so much testing there during the winter. The technical package I have is different to what we tested with so we'll need a bit of time to find the right setting but, as I say, we know the place well so I'm sure we'll quickly find a good balance.
“Sepang features a lot of technical sections – you need to be very concentrated under braking and good traction is another very important factor. Track temperatures are usually very high so tyre choice for the race is always fundamental.
“After finishing fifth at Phillip Island it would be nice to be in the top six again. If we can start practice out on the right foot then that kind of result is definitely within our reach.”
Alex de Angelis, meanwhile, showed flashes of speed in Australia but he would go on to retire on the first lap. Nonetheless, with a decent record at Sepang during lower classes, the San Marino rider is determined to improve his results in the last two races.
"Sepang represents another difficult challenge for us because it has two long straights where horsepower plays a crucial role. On top of that, during the winter tests there we struggled with chatter problems but over the course of the season we have done a lot of work on the set-up of the bike and with the Bridgestone tyres so I'm sure the situation will be much improved compared to the last time we rode there.