Casey Stoner is more confident of his championship challenge than he was at the same time last year, despite a front brake vibration consigning him to a distant fourth place at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.
"For this race we are a lot more confident than we have been in the past," said the Australian at Jerez.
"Last year was obviously a disaster with the setting we had. This year I feel a little bit more confident.
"We had a good setting here in testing, but we know the track conditions change all the time so we are going to have make sure this setting still works and we will try and improve it from there.
"I think we could be in with a shout for at least a podium which is a better result than we have ever had here."
The Ducati rider, speaking on the eve of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, said that while the problems prevented him from fighting for a win in Motegi, he was encouraged by the carbon-chassis GP09's obvious potential.
"As I went out on the start of my warm-up lap I had a lot of shuddering in the front brakes," he said.
"We don't really understand why. I had similar problems to this at the end of the race in Qatar, but that was due to the tyre slipping around the rim and it went out of balance so... it was similar to this. I thought; 'Oh no the wheel has already slipped, and I am going to have chattering the whole race'.
"But as I came onto the grid and I pulled gently on the brakes the front-end was dipping, so basically there must have been some problem with the discs and the pads.
"Either there was a chunk out of the disc that wore away, or I don't know what it was. At the beginning of the race there was no consistency in the braking, it was inconsistent going in and I lost the front a couple of time, so I lost all my confidence, and everybody started piling past me.
"I mean it (the battle up front) was nice to watch it in Motegi, but I kind of wish I was a little bit closer," he added. "I thought at one point I would have been able to track them down, but I wasn't able to go that much quicker.
"We had a loss of confidence at the beginning when the tyres were a little better maybe, and we struggled at the end with the light fuel load. To come away with a fourth position with the way the race started, we did alright."