Yamaha has said the impressive speed shown by reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner in winter testing is not an early cause for concern ahead of the start of the 2012 campaign in Qatar next month.
The Australian has ended both 2012 test sessions at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia with the fastest time, despite his worries about a persistent chatter problem with Honda’s new factory RC213V.
But the Repsol Honda rider’s brilliant form isn’t proving a pre-season headache for rivals Yamaha.
Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies are both convinced that Yamaha’s new YZR-M1 1000cc machine has cut the advantage Honda had in 2011 with a new engine, chassis and electronics package tested in Sepang earlier this month.
Yamaha occupied three out of the top five places in Malaysia last time out, with new Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso the quickest YZR-M1 rider ahead of Lorenzo and Briton Cal Crutchlow.
But the outstanding form shown by 26-year-old Stoner has only confirmed his status as overwhelming pre-season favourite after he captured a second premier class crown in 2011 with 10 race wins.
Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team boss Wilco Zeelenberg though is confident the Spaniard can compete with Stoner and he told MCN: “We are not worried by Casey’s form. We know he is fast and has proven that for the last five years. I think we are closer than last year but of course he is the world champion and our main target.
"If you look at last season it could have easily been different. He made some mistakes and had some problems like in Motegi. If he had crashed there it could have been a different story and maybe closer.
"But in the end he won easily and he was the strongest and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that. Casey, Dani (Pedrosa) and Jorge are the three main guys and if one makes a mistake then the other two are always there and you can easily lose a lot of points.
"We had a DNF in Silverstone and Casey won and we had a problem in Assen and Casey was on the podium, so you lose a lot of points very quickly.
"If you don’t finish and Casey is ninth it is not an issue but this doesn’t happen. But that’s because those guys are better than the rest and that’s the game at the moment.”