Jorge Lorenzo is optimistic that he can fight with the Hondas in tomorrow's French Grand Prix, despite the latter squad's domination of the weekend so far.
World champion Lorenzo starts fifth, behind the four factory-spec Hondas of Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa. But having been a second off the pace through practice, Lorenzo was within half a second of Stoner's pole time in qualifying.
"We start on the second row for tomorrow; we will try to keep our pace of 1m34.0s or 1m34.1s," said Lorenzo. "If we can do this then maybe we can fight for the podium. If other riders make some mistakes and are not fast enough and we are a little bit faster then it's possible to fight for more. It's our goal and this is what we are going to try for the race.
"I am optimistic, though, I think we are not very far from Pedrosa or Dovizioso and if I can improve my riding and be a bit faster on the race and they struggle a little bit we can be with them."
Ben Spies will start eighth on the second Yamaha, but felt he had made good progress through the weekend and would be stronger in the race.
"It was an OK session for us; we got held up a bit on our quick lap but in all actuality I've been building up more confidence through the weekend and feeling better with the bike," he said.
"We're going to make a change for tomorrow and hopefully we can find something. We have pretty good pace for the race and I'm quite confident we can get some decent points."