If testing at Sepang this week was anything to go by, the 2011 Honda RC212V is a very competitive package - even if Valentino Rossi feels the Yamaha is still marginally ahead.

Either way, it was RCVs that led all three days during the first 2011 MotoGP test in Malaysia, which ended with five Hondas in the top seven.

But, worryingly for its rivals, the bike is still far from perfect.

"The point where we can and need to improve is corner entry. The movement we have on the rear," said Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso, who was otherwise delighted with the test. "We need to understand if it is the clutch or the electronic system.

"Some people have one idea, others have another idea. It is not easy because Honda has had this problem since the four-strokes [2002]. It is not just one or two years. Every year we improve, but not enough.

"At Turn 7 nobody shifts down and when you don't shift down you don't use the clutch and at that moment the hopping comes out so big. But when you need to shift down two or three gears, you play with the clutch and the hopping is reduced.

"Everybody with Honda has this problem. More or less. It depends which clutch you use and how you control it. But the problem is the bike. I saw many riders with Yamaha and Ducati and they don't use the clutch to downshift. They do nothing. So the difference is big."

New HRC signing Casey Stoner agreed with Dovizioso, both about the significance of the issue and the likelihood that a solution will come from new parts rather than set-up.

"For sure, we put this [hopping] as the most important thing [to work on] when we arrived here," said the Australian, fastest on day one. "We tried for almost all the first two-days just working on the clutch alone, trying to reduce the hopping effect, or what I call chattering.

"We've got it a little bit better, but still we need to make a bigger step forward. We've got more work to do in this area for sure.

"[Honda] has been trying for a long time in all different areas of set-up and, while we can improve the situation with set-up and electronics, but we can't really fix the problem.

"So I think it needs to be externally [new parts]. I think the engineers need to come up with something, but already they've come up with something from the last test until now."

Stoner added that the hopping costs time in two ways: Firstly because the back tyre isn't contributing to braking as much as it should be and secondly, because it makes the rider more cautious on turn in.



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