Cal Crutchlow believes he and Tech 3 will be hard-pressed to emulate their 2012 MotoGP success due to the factory support Honda's two satellite squads will receive this year.
Crutchlow became the first Briton to stand on the rostrum of a premier class grand prix when he finished third at Brno last year. Tech 3, meanwhile, ended the year a clear third in the teams' championship, behind only the works Honda and Yamaha squads.
Crutchlow believes the MotoGP midfield will be far closer in 2013 however, and is particularly wary of the progress of Honda's two satellite squads, Gresini and LCR.
"It's going to be difficult, because the other two satellite guys, [Alvaro] Bautista `[Gresini] and [Stefan] Bradl [CR] have full factory bikes," he told Britain's BBC. "We haven't got anything new: the bike [at MotoGP's recent Sepang test] was exactly the same bike that we raced in Valencia last year. This year I think seven or eight guys could win a race. We sat down as a team and said it's going to be a war."
While he insisted that there were gains to be had of starting 2013 without a new bike, Crutchlow said he hoped for more improvements from Yamaha before the forthcoming Feb. 26-28 test at Sepang.
"It's a good and a bad thing: obviously we want some stuff to improve, but also to familiarise yourself with the bike, it will do for now," Crutchlow said of testing last year's bike. "We worked through some problems, and seemed to get better in a few areas.
"We will see what we can get for the second test, [but] we need Yamaha to be helping us out there as well. The level of the Honda is really good this year too so we will see; it's going to be difficult. But I've proven my speed and if I can improve again like last season and make that jump again, I can be even nearer to the front. I look forward to the challenge."
2013 MotoGP pre-season testing
Sepang* 3-4 February
Sepang 5-7 February
Sepang 26-28 February
Austin** 12-14 March
Jerez 23-25 March
* Only open for CRTs ** HRC private test