Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo is confident that Yamaha’s new factory YZR-M1 1000cc machine will be a bigger threat to Honda and Casey Stoner in 2012.
The Australian dominated the final 800cc world championship to win 10 races that secured HRC its first premier class title since 2006.
But 2010 world champion Lorenzo believes Yamaha is closer to matching the performance of Honda’s new RC213V than it was in the final 800cc campaign and he told MCN in Sepang tonight: “We are closer than last year but I don’t know if it is enough to fight with them.
"We will try to improve the bike even more because we know that Dani (Pedrosa) and Casey will be very quick.”
Yamaha is certainly leaving no stone unturned in its bid to wrestle back the world title off Japanese rivals Honda.
Lorenzo has tried new electronics and a new YZR-M1 engine spec in the opening two rain-hit days in Malaysia and tomorrow he will evaluate a new frame.
The double world 250GP champion was second fastest in the dry today with a best time of 2.01.293 that left him just 0.008s behind team-mate Ben Spies.
He said: “The connection of the throttle today was much better and it was easier to enter the corner and we improved some tenths compared to yesterday. I liked it a lot and we improved a lot. It is easier to ride in the corners.
"I feel I have more grip with the rear tyre and I am more confident and I can slide more. Yesterday the connection was not very constant. We also had less wheelie.”
Lorenzo took advantage of yet more wet and miserable conditions at the Sepang circuit today to make his debut on the new 1000cc in wet conditions.
He set the best time with a best lap of 2.14.759 and he said: “Like yesterday the rain came and we lost a lot of hours of testing. But we could ride for the first time with the 1000 in the rain and this was a positive thing.
"I could feel and see that in the rain we are very competitive because I was the fastest with quite a big difference. But a lot of riders didn’t ride in the rain and for sure we know Casey would be very fast. But I feel very strong in the wet and in the dry we improved a lot.”