First and third respectively at the previous official tests, Niccolo Antonelli's pre-season preparations came to an unexpectedly subdued conclusion with 14th place at this week's Jerez outing.
The Gresini rider, whose form had been revived by the winter switch from Honda to KTM machinery, was nonetheless only 0.581s from the fastest lap by factory KTM's Jack Miller.
“Unfortunately, these three last days of testing were not exceptional; however, today was better than yesterday, although we were not able to improve our lap times and as a result the final position on the timesheet is clearly not what we expected,” said Antonelli.
“We have been competitive during all winter, so we remain confident ahead the Qatar Grand Prix, knowing that we are capable to fight for the top positions: after all, the chassis of the bike is fine, we only need to fix a few things to come back to the top.”
“During all the previous testing sessions - at Almeria, Valencia and even here in Jerez at the end of February - we were among the fastest riders with Niccolò, so obviously this time we made some mistakes,” added team principal Fausto Gresini. “We will try to find a solution in Qatar, perhaps doing a step back with regard to the chassis adjustments”.
Antonelli's rookie team-mate Enea Bastianini was also disappointed, being left 25th out of the 33 riders, 1.773s from Miller.
“To be honest, this final test was a bit disappointing, because we wanted to get more. At the beginning of the winter the situation was better than expected, while the latter part was more difficult, but I think that this is quite normal.
“Today, however, we did a good job, closing the gap to the other riders and continuing to fine-tune the bike set-up, although there is still a lot of work to do. The level here in the world championship is very high and it's definitely not easy, but I have great confidence because the team is working hard and the atmosphere is good.”