Dani Pedrosa returned to his pre-2010 position as Honda’s top rider during Friday free practice for his home Spanish Grand Prix.
The #26, who faded from first to seventh in the Qatar season-opener, benefitted from some a new stiffer chassis - designed to counter the stability problems he has been battling - on his way to a competitive fourth place.
“We tried a new chassis today and there is an improvement in some areas which meant we could finish the session not too far from the front,” said Pedrosa, who was within half a second of fastest rider Casey Stoner (Ducati).
“There seemed to be a lack of grip today though and we need to look at the data and work out if the problem is our set-up or just the condition of the track. We haven’t found all the solutions we’re looking for with the new parts on the bike yet, so we need to work hard in tomorrow’s two sessions and try to qualify well.
“Every race is important of course, but because this is my home race I really want to do well on Sunday,” added Pedrosa, who won the 2008 Spanish MotoGP and was second to Valentino Rossi last year.
But while Pedrosa advanced up the order on Friday, team-mate Andrea Dovizioso - third at Qatar - was left in twelfth place.
“I knew that the characteristics of this track could increase some of our issues and that’s what happened today,” said the Italian. “Compared to Sepang and Qatar, Jerez is a slow track and it requires strong braking performance and strong acceleration. We knew that I might struggle a little here but today the practices didn’t go as we expected.
“From the beginning it was quite hard to find a good feeling and I struggled to improve my lap times through the session. At the moment there’s a fair gap to the first riders and we need to find some improvements in a few areas.
“We have already had a meeting with the technicians to analyse the data and decide on a plan for the rest of the weekend so I’m confident about making improvements tomorrow,” concluded Dovi, who was 1.546sec from Stoner.