New Pramac Ducati star Scott Redding could barely hide his glee at finishing second fastest in the final pre-season MotoGP test, in Qatar.
Never outside the top five across the three days, Redding made light of the speed he showed during his final run on Friday, joking, “It was a bit of a problem; I was just getting faster and faster!”
The 23-year old was warmly embraced by Ducati's Davide Tardozzi during his media debrief at the close of the day, and feels he has proven that his preseason target of finishing inside the top six should not have been laughed at.
“I'm just going to keep my target [which is] top six,” said the Englishman, who endured a torrid 2015 at Marc VDS Honda but was behind only Yamaha's reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo in Qatar.
“I said that before and a lot of people were laughing about it but now a lot of people are questioning [whether] it [is possible]. I try not to say things that I can't do or not believe that I can't do. Ducati has given me the bike that is competitive and it works for me. I got a good gel with the bike. There's no reason why not. I have the talent.
“I've been in this game long enough and put a lot of hard work in. There's no reason it shouldn't come. Obviously after two bad years I'm going to give it everything I've got every time I'm on the bike.
“The target is top six but I don't want to be disappointed and put too much pressure. At the end of the day it's my first year with Ducati and at the end of the test I was top Ducati. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself but top six would be awesome to start the season.”
Having shown pace aboard his GP15 at tests in Jerez, Sepang and Phillip Island, Redding revealed he was nearly taken aback with his feeling and speed with a new rear tyre toward the close of the day.
Even though his pace was such that he ended the day two tenths of a second faster than the next best Ducati, Redding also commented on how he was using the track time to gain a further understanding of the package beneath him.
“It was a bit of the problem; I was just getting faster and faster with the rear tyre! I did a run of ten laps, it wasn't planned. I just felt f**king good. We changed something. Every lap was '55 except one when I went off track or when someone tried to follow me. When I pushed it was '55.5, '55.4, '55.3 – three laps in a row when I went faster, faster, faster.
“The problem I've got is that with the front there is a lot of movement on the tyre. Just in that run I understood how to change my style to adapt to that. Then the guys boxed me because I was playing about a bit with Iannone and they didn't want me to lose my way really.
“It's not [about changing] my style, it's just understanding what's going to happen. I'm still learning the bike. I'm still learning the tyres. Everyone forgets that the factory guys had a few tests over me and a few riders.
“I'm trying to learn a lot at once and it does take time. I don't want to go out like a scolded cat and crash it. I've got to build my confidence. I've had two s**t years and I want to get it back. It's just going to that limit and then trying a few small things; that's better, it works better if I'm slower in faster out... Just kind of calculating the speed at which corners.”
Factory star Andrea Iannone, riding the 2016 Desmosedici, was the next best Ducati rider after Redding, in sixth.
The second fastest satellite rider was LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, in seventh.
Scott Redding's long runs:
Two long runs, separated by 19mins in the pits. Redding set his fastest lap of the day at the end of the first ten lap run.
1. 2m 06.161
2. 1m 58.289
3. 2m 02.935
4. 1m 56.016
5. 1m 55.711
6. 1m 55.577
7. 1m 55.913
8. 1m 55.446
9. 2m 06.934
10. 1m 55.326
1. 2m 04.940
2. 1m 56.616
3. 1m 55.863
4. 1m 57.662
5. 1m 59.878
6. 1m 56.017
7. 2m 01.397
8. 1m 55.839