Jorge Lorenzo believes his title rival Casey Stoner will not be out of reach in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, though the Spaniard was concerned that he lost pace in second practice at Phillip Island today.
Lorenzo was within 0.269 seconds of Stoner in this morning's session at the Honda rider's home track, but the gap increased to half a second in the afternoon, when Lorenzo's Yamaha slipped to third behind Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli.
"Today I felt great in the morning but in the afternoon not as good," said Lorenzo.
"It was impossible to replicate the lap time from the morning. We were up to five tenths slower and I'm not sure why, maybe the track conditions were different, anyway we'll see what happens tomorrow.
"We know that Casey is very fast here but today he wasn't so quick. We must try to win and if not possible fight for the podium on Sunday."
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg believes the potential exists for Lorenzo to take the fight to Stoner this weekend.
"Jorge feels confident on the bike and has space to improve, especially with rear grip," said Zeelenberg. "The gap between him and Casey was quite close this morning so we are quite satisfied with the first day."
Zeelenberg also reckons the slower pace in the second session was more to do with conditions than Yamaha losing ground.
"The morning session especially was a little bit better than the afternoon," he said. "Everybody seemed to have less speed on the straight which was strange as there wasn't much wind."