CRT pacesetter Randy de Puniet's first objective this weekend is to cross the line as the leading CRT rider in Qatar for the Power Electronics Aspar team.

The French star has impressed during pre-season on the Aprilia ART and was comfortably the leading CRT representative, posting a time less than a second adrift of factory Ducati superstar Valentino Rossi at the final Jerez test.

De Puniet said: "After pre-season we are ready for the first Grand Prix of the year. From a technical point of view we are ready to race and the communication and relationship within the team is excellent.

"Personally I am 100% fit and looking forward to getting out on the bike on Thursday. Testing went very well but I am looking forward to feeling the atmosphere of a Grand Prix."

De Puniet expects to lose a lot of time to the factory Honda, Yamaha and Ducati machines on the long straight on the Losail circuit but his immediate concern is to back up his performance by underlining his status as the top CRT rider in MotoGP.

"I really like the Losail circuit. There will probably be a lot of sand on the track at first so on Thursday and Friday we will have to be extra careful," he said.

"It has a long straight which will cost us time against the factory bikes but our objective is to be the first CRT bike across the line."

Aleix Espargar? returns to MotoGP after a season in Moto2 and the Spaniard has also featured prominently in the pre-season tests.

"I am very excited for the season to start because as usual winter has felt like a long time without racing. I enjoy training and testing but I am one of these riders that lives to race," he said.

"I like Losail a lot because it is fast and that usually suits my style, so I am very much looking forward to starting the season there. I need to control my excitement and channel it into finishing as high up the order as I can.

"I am really keen on the new concept and I think we're in a position to get some great results."

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