HRC team principal Shuhei Nakamoto says Honda must not underestimate the threat Jorge Lorenzo poses to Casey Stoner's championship lead, in spite of the Australian's superior win ratio of 5:2 and his 20-point advantage at the top of the MotoGP standings.
Honda's RC212V has been the most consistently competitive motorcycle this season, but Yamaha's reigning champion Lorenzo has finished no lower than second in the last three races and remains within striking distance of Stoner with eight races – just under half the campaign – still to go.
"Honda has won seven out of 10 races so far," said Nakamoto. "Considering we only won four in the whole of the last season, you'd think we have it in the bag. But Lorenzo is a very tough competitor. He's not going to give up, and I think we will continue to see a pattern of wins and losses for the rest of the season. A single slip could upset the whole championship battle. We're going to be treating every race with the utmost seriousness, concentrating on avoiding any mistakes that could cost us points."
While there is a perception that Stoner's recent win in Laguna Seca was made easier by his closest rivals Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa nursing injuries in the closing stages, Nakamoto also insisted that Stoner has not been riding problem-free.
"Actually, Casey still has physical problems remaining from his crash in practice at Assen, and he still feels pain when he rides," he said. "So the two-week break will be an excellent chance for him to get himself back into perfect condition. It's good timing.
"With the chance afforded by the summer break for more physical training, I think we'll also see Dani soon return to his original form. If that happens, the coming races will all be fought between Dani, Casey and Jorge. All three riders are quite capable of winning."