Andrea Dovizioso believes he can deliver much stronger form with Tech 3 Yamaha this year than the pace that took him to the podium in the Dutch TT last weekend.
The Italian's second top-three finish of the season came after a long battle with factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies, who was ultimately slowed by tyre problems. But Dovizioso did not feel it was one of his stronger race performances, despite the result.
"Unfortunately, in the race my feeling with the front was not as good as in practice, so my lap times were slower," he said. "My feeling with the bike in the race wasn't good enough to push 100 percent like in other races."
Dovizioso is not sure if Tech 3 will be able to get among title protagonists and leading works riders Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner on pure pace, but believes his team can reduce the present gap even further.
"We can go better. We can be a little bit faster. I don't know if we can fight with them, but we can be closer – and this is our target," he said.
The Assen result moved Dovizioso to within one point of team-mate Cal Crutchlow in their battle for fourth in the MotoGP championship. Dovizioso said he did not underestimate how tough the season-long fight with the Briton was going to be.
"Cal is really, really fast. Really, really fast," said Dovizioso. "In Silverstone he was in a lot of pain but he was really fast in the race even without practice. It will be difficult to beat him, but we are there."