James Toseland says he is slowly getting his confidence back after slicing 1.5secs off his best time on the final night of pre-season testing at Qatar.
The British rider has continued to struggle from the after-effects of his fall last time out at Sepang, one that left him feeling uncomfortable on the Tech 3 Yamaha initially.
Nonetheless, while he was still classified a lowly 15th at the end of the test, Toseland was pleased to be showing signs of competitiveness again, pointing out that he is just over a second off team-mate Colin Edwards now and with much more to come.
“It has not been an easy test but on the last night I felt like we were finding a good direction and I was certainly feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike,” he said. “The crash in Sepang hit my confidence and it took me a while to find my rhythm, but I feel I can go much faster now.
“There is still plenty of work to do but I was 1.5s faster on the last night, and I just need time on the bike. I had a bit of an issue with the feeling from soft front tyre, which I had to run later on during the evening as the track temperature got cooler. I was comfortable with the hard front tyre but it was too hard for the colder temperatures.
“I can still improve and I learned about the bike and the tyres at this test, and at the end I'm only just over a second behind Colin and he has been consistently fast.”
In the week that American drinks giant Monster announced they would become Tech 3's title sponsor, Edwards worked on race simulations to secure ninth on the timesheets.
“I am really happy with this test,” he said. “It didn't start well with the rain on the first night and the wind blew a lot of sand and dust onto the track on the second night, so the lap times were still way off normal pace. But I was still one of the quickest and I've got to say the Yamaha and Bridgestone combination is very impressive.
“I've just been concentrating on trying to find a good setting for the race, even though we expect the temperature to be a little warmer when we return but I'm really confident. I couldn't believe my race simulation. The grip from Bridgestone is really incredible and I'm seriously impressed.
“The grip just gets better the more distance you run on it and I did my best lap in the race simulation on the last lap. That's just not something I'm used to at all. All we've been doing is working hard as a team. Things are going great with Guy Coulon. We've got one more test in Jerez to work on a few more things but I'm ready to race. I feel stronger and more motivated than ever.”
The final pre-season test takes place at Jerez from March 28-29.