Aleix Espargaro hailed Thursday as the best day of his pre-season preparations so far after the Suzuki rider found some confidence with the front end of his GSX-RR.
Espargaro has been dogged by a lack of front-end feel and lost confidence after a series of spills, but the Spanish riders says he can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I'm quite satisfied with today but obviously not so happy, but it was maybe the best day of the pre-season,” he said.
“I start to feel a little bit of improvement with the bike, of my feeling and I feel better with the front because after three crashes in Valencia, two crashes in Australia and one yesterday, I had no feeling with the bike.
“So today step by step I feel better and finally I think the pace was not that bad and the time also is not a disaster,” added Espargaro, who lapped in 1m 56.126s as he finished 0.690s adrift of team-mate Maverick Vinales, who bagged the top spot.
“Let's say that today was the first normal day [of pre-season] and obviously after the crashes I lose a lot of feeling with the front tyre. I'm a really aggressive rider and I need to feel the front because I brake hard.
“Today was the first time I start to feel better the front and we tried 1,000 things during this pre-season. Finally I am happy because we are in a good way.”
Espargaro is now looking ahead to completing a simulation on the final day of the Qatar night test on Friday and is optimistic he can make further progress.
“I'm satisfied but not happy because we still have lot of work in front of us but we are not so far. I'm really curious to see my pace in the race simulation tomorrow because I think we can do a nice simulation,” he said.
“Obviously for one really fast lap you need to have a lot of front feeling, which I don't have right now, but for race simulation it can be interesting.”
Espargaro has tested the fully seamless gearbox and although he noted an advantage in maintaining constant revs, he feels there is still room for improvement with the upgrade.
“I think there is still room to improve this seamless 'type two'. It gives you a little bit more because the RPM remains a little bit more constant but we need to work more with this type, because it is a little aggressive when you touch the levers.”