After seeing his hopes of a debut MotoGP crown slip away at the penultimate round of last season, Dani Pedrosa will be aiming to take the initiative early in 2013.
On the podium six times during the opening seven rounds, it nevertheless took until round eight for Pedrosa to claim a victory last season, after Honda introduced a revised chassis to help counter tyre chatter issues.
But by that time Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo had already won four races and those extra points - combined with a string of second places - ultimately allowed him to absorb Pedrosa's second-half charge.
2012 was still Pedrosa's best MotoGP season to date, with seven wins and 15 podiums.
"After a long testing period I am now really ready to go racing!” said Pedrosa, the most sucessful rider yet to win a 500cc/MotoGP title. “The team has worked hard to get us in the best place for the start of the season and I'm pleased with my physical situation.
“It's a long weekend in Qatar, with the schedule over four days, and the grip level takes some time to improve with the sand and conditions there.”
This year will be Pedrosa's eighth in the premier-class, all of them spent at Repsol Honda. One new challenge will be the knockout-style qualifying system, to be used for the first time on Saturday.
“It will be interesting to see how the new qualifying format works and really looking forward to the race. I'm just excited to get the season started!" he said.
Pedrosa, who has a new team-mate in the form of rookie countryman Marc Marquez, finished second to Lorenzo at Losail last year.