Andrea Dovizioso is confident that his new Repsol Honda will be more competitive at this weekend's Qatar season-opener than it had been at the pre-season test, which he finished 1.7sec from the front.
The young Italian made his MotoGP debut during last season's inaugural Losail night race, which he finished in an excellent fourth position - one place behind 2009 team-mate Dani Pedrosa and one place ahead of eventual 2008 world champion Valentino Rossi.
Dovi's winter transition to the factory Honda team has been more complicated than he would have liked, and the former 125cc world champion has also been learning Bridgestone tyres, but the #4 will be doing all be can to fight at the front.
“Well, I'm really looking forward to the start of the season,” he began. “This was my first winter as a factory Honda tester and it was an exciting experience to be in the full works squad. Now the preparation is over and we're going racing.
“I like racing in Qatar, and riding under the floodlights at night is very special. It has an amazing, unique atmosphere and the layout of the track is different from the other circuits, in particular the turns are very long.
“Still, I have always had good results in Qatar and last year, at my debut in MotoGP, I had a fantastic race. At the last test in Jerez our machine had improved compared to the previous test we did in Qatar at the beginning of March, so I'm confident for the first race of the season and I will be doing my best to fight up front,” he concluded.
Dovizioso finished the Qatar test - held in early March - in eighth position, one place behind satellite RCV rider Randy de Puniet.