Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista is hoping for a return to the MotoGP podium in 2014 after his consistent run of form at the end of last season.
In the last 11 races of 2013, the Spaniard only finished outside of the top six twice and in three races he finished fourth.
Bautista is now hoping he can challenge more for the top three in his third season with Fausto Gresini’s satellite Honda squad.
The former 125GP world champion told MCN: “I hope to fight for more podiums but it is not easy when you see how strong the top four factory riders are. In the second half of last season I was fighting with some factory bikes and that is my target again. I need to be as close to them as possible and try to be on the podium more.”
Bautista has been pleased with the progress made by Showa in the winter and he believes rear shock improvements have been the biggest development to help his rostrum bid.
He added: “The biggest step I have felt in the tests has been from Showa. They delivered some new items for the front forks but the rear is completely new and we made a good step. In the drive area exiting the corner it has helped me a lot. But we have to improve with the new compound Bridgestone tyres because we have less edge grip. I think the step we made with the suspension is bigger than we have now with the tyres. With the old tyres the suspension was working much better, but now not so much.”