Valentino Rossi feels that Marc Marquez and Honda have retained their MotoGP advantage during 2015 pre-season testing.

Title runner-up Rossi and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo were able to win four of the final six races last year, but Marquez has been back on top in the Sepang tests.

The second Malaysian outing ended on Wednesday, when Marquez was 0.322s clear of nearest rival Lorenzo with Rossi fifth in terms of best lap time.

"For me Marquez is the more competitive. He was faster on the time attack but also in the race simulation and I think Marquez and Honda are the favourites to win the championship," Rossi said.

Marquez's race simulation saw 16 of 19 laps under 2m 1s and an average time of 2m 0.760s. At Sepang 1, Marquez's race simulation had an average of 2m 1.180s and just five laps under 2m 1s.

Asked if he feels closer to Marquez and Honda than at the end of last season, seven time MotoGP champion Rossi confessed:

"For me no. But it depends very much on the track. And you know the test is not a race weekend. It is completely different. You work in another way. Always start-stop. The race is another thing. But I think more or less the gap remains the same."

Nonetheless Rossi and Lorenzo's hopes have been boosted by a new Yamaha gearbox, featuring seamless downshifts similar to the Honda, helping with braking and corner entry.

"In general I'm happy about the test because our main issue is to understand the gearbox, which is good," Rossi confirmed. "I like it and it can help us a little bit. I'm not very happy about my time attack today because for me I have a better potential.

"I have the potential to stay in the top three, but I always take traffic. One time Pedrosa, one time Bradley Smith - but it is my mistake. The rider has to decide the moment to have the clear lap. Anyway the test positon is not very important, it is just for fun!

"Apart from that, we worked very much with the used tyre. We tried to work with the tyre with a lot of laps because in this track we suffer a little bit. At the end we found something not so bad, but I think this is the main issue to improve. For the rest the bike is very good.

"I think it will be very interesting and I'm very curious to understand our potential at another track like Qatar. To understand the difference between Honda, Ducati and Yamaha."

Before the Qatar test Rossi will join most of his rivals back at Sepang on Thursday for Michelin tyre testing.



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