Andrea Dovizioso believes Honda is in better shape than current testing results suggest as he is confident that the latest bike is competitive over a race distance. But the Italian admitted that his team needs to improve its qualifying form – while his teammate Dani Pedrosa said he still had a lot of work to do to get the 2010 bike up to speed.
Honda has not been among the frontrunners in the first two winter tests, which have been held at Sepang this month. Yamaha's Valentino Rossi has been fastest in every session, with Ducati the closest rival to the champion team. Today, Dovizioso and Pedrosa were only seventh and eighth, although the Italian was at least happy with his long-run pace.
"If we consider the two days in total, this second test session has represented a big step forward compared to the last time we came here at the beginning of February," said Dovizioso. "I'm satisfied that we could lap consistently and for the race this is very important. We did a race simulation and the pace with race tires was good.
"Today, I can't be totally satisfied with seventh on the time sheets and this was because I wasn't able to use the soft tire at its best to improve the lap time. It's something we'll have to analyze because getting a good grid position for the race is important. Of course, there is still work to do to get closer to Valentino and Casey [Stoner], but anyway, all in all I'm very confident."
However, Pedrosa was less optimistic. The Spaniard had a fall yesterday and was only eighth today. "We put in a lot of work today and tried many things on the machine to improve our pace," he said. "We made some progress with the feeling from the engine which is positive, though we didn't really get the results we were looking for elsewhere, and some of the issues we had yesterday are still there.
"So, there's plenty for us still to do before Qatar. The team is working really hard and we're positive that there's a lot more to come. Of course, I can't say that eighth is where I want to be on the time sheets at the end of this test, so we'll definitely look to move things forward in Qatar."