Yamaha insists that its 2011 bike is a match for its MotoGP rivals over a race distance even though it has not shown outright pace in testing.
Honda has led the way so far in the MotoGP season build-up, with the factory Yamahas of Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo only fifth and seventh on the final day at Sepang yesterday. Team boss Massimo Meregalli acknowledged that Yamaha had a gap to make up, but was adamant that the testing results were deceptive and it would be quick in grands prix.
"There is still a gap to the fastest riders but in terms of long runs we are very competitive so we will go to Qatar knowing we can achieve a good result," Meregalli said. "Jorge found a good setup [on Thursday] afternoon and achieved a really good long run so we have achieved the targets we set before we came here, I am very satisfied with the team and how we have performed."
Spies agreed that Yamaha's problem was finding pace over a single lap and early in a stint.
"We still have some work to do obviously but we're not too far off race pace," he said. "We need to figure out how to get the bike a little bit quicker for a few laps, definitely for qualifying and the beginning of the race."
But Yamaha team manager Wilco Zeelenberg feels that form cannot be accurately judged after only six days of winter testing.
"Of course, we saw our competitors were very fast [on Thursday] morning but it's only the second test of the year, I think Qatar will be a very different story," he said. "We've improved the package compared to the last time we were here racing here which was our goal. Of course, we have more work to do and we will continue to work on it."
The MotoGP field has one more two-day test to come in Qatar on March 13-14 before the season-opening race at the Losail track, which this year runs over a four-day schedule from March 17-20.