Hector Barbera is approaching his first MotoGP season as a CRT rider with confidence after setting the privateer pace on day two of the Jerez test - and finishing just a few tenths from the Aspar Aprilias on overall times.
Barbera, a satellite Ducati rider for his previous three MotoGP seasons, is joining fellow former 250GP star Hiroshi Aoyama in an all-new Avintia Blusens line-up.
Avintia is continuing with FTR-Kawasaki machinery for the second year of the privateer class, but is among the teams to have chosen to run the new standard ECU system, compulsory from 2014.
Barbera was fastest of the riders with the control electronics at Jerez, finishing as high as eleventh on day two, before Tech 3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith plus Aspar Aprilia riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro moved ahead on the final day.
Nevertheless, Barbera was within 0.4s of de Puniet, the quickest of the CRT class.
"It is always nice to finish a test with positive feelings and being fast. We are aware that in Qatar things will be difficult, but in this Jerez test we have been again very close to the best CRT after these three days,” said the Spaniard, who qualified on the front row at Mugello last year before injuries wrecked his season.
“Yesterday, on the first day in dry conditions, we were the fastest and in wet we have also been competitive. The truth is that I have felt at ease and every time we understand more each other in the team. They have done a fantastic job and I am sure that we will be able to make a good season."
Barbera's form delighted team manager Raul Romero.
“I cannot hide my joy: [on day two] we were the fastest CRT bike and we are third overall, just a few tenths from the fastest, after these three days,” he said.
“Maybe [on day three] we would have been able to improve further but we have used the end of the stint - when the track was dry - to make several tests. In any case, I am happy and convinced that in Qatar we will fight for the CRT 'podium'."
Aoyama, who fractured his left wrist in a training accident in late January, was 23rd quickest. The Japanese, returning to grand prix after a season in WSBK, didn't mind the largely wet conditions and felt tangible progress was made with the electronics.
"We have not been lucky with the weather but it has been fine with me to ride in wet because I have been able to try several solutions,” he said. “In dry conditions we have worked a lot with the electronics and I am encouraged because, at the end, I have been able to ride more at ease than I had done so far, but I still hope to improve in Qatar.
“The team is working better every day and I think that when the moment of truth arrives, we can do it very well. I am encouraged for the first race and I am happy because I hardly have discomfort in the hand."