Michele Pirro is hoping to iron out teething problems with the Gresini FTR-Honda and take the next step forward during this weekend's Spanish MotoGP.

The Gresini CRT is the newest of the 2012 CRT bikes, managing only a fraction of the full winter testing schedule, but has shown encouraging pace - highlighted by Pirro's 15th place in opening practice for the Qatar season opener.

However technical teething problems held the team back in the race, when Pirro was deemed not classified due to insufficient laps. But when he was on track, the Italian set the 17th fastest lap out of the 21 competitors.

"It was exciting for me to make my MotoGP debut in Qatar, racing alongside so many great champions," reflected Pirro. "Unfortunately it wasn't an easy debut from a technical point of view because our bike still has some teething problems, which is to be expected, so I wasn't able to find my limit despite a lot of hard work from the team.

"They are putting in a huge effort and I hope that is rewarded in a positive fashion in Jerez. It won't be easy because we don't have a magic wand to wave but I am confident that we can take another step forward and be on the pace of the best CRT bikes out there.

"Jerez is one of the best events on the calendar and the atmosphere there is very special. We all believe in this project and hopefully Jerez can prove to be a launchpad to bigger and better things."

Team manager Fausto Gresini wasn't surprised by the technical hiccups, but expects to see 'marked improvements' at Jerez.

"It wasn't an easy debut for the CRT project in Qatar because the bike is still so young and needs a lot of work, especially with us having fallen behind the planned schedule," he said. "It is an important project to us and the guys are working hard on it with a lot of enthusiasm.

"That includes Michele, who is giving his maximum every time he goes out on track and I am sure we will see marked improvements this weekend after that first real outing with the bike in Qatar. With the changes we have made since then we can look forward to taking another step forward at Jerez."

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