Marc Marquez is drawing confidence from his final run during the Qatar test at the beginning of March after struggling to overcome handling problems with the Repsol Honda throughout the winter programme.
The two-time premier class champion endured a largely frustrating pre-season, battling corner entry and exit issues with the RC213V as he lagged uncharacteristically behind on the time sheets.
However, the 23-year-old gave himself a huge boost on the last day of the Qatar test at Losail, improving his best lap significantly to slot into fourth on the combined times ahead of Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and just under sixth tenths behind Jorge Lorenzo, who was head and shoulders above the remainder of the MotoGP field.
It was a shot in the arm for Marquez, although the Spanish rider concedes that he is heading into an unpredictable opening race weekend with the Honda in the traditional night race in Doha.
“The season is finally about to start, and I'm looking forward to it. When we came here two weeks ago we did a big step forward with the set-up at the very end of the test, and I really felt at ease with the bike, especially in my last run that was quite late in the evening with the dew already starting to form,” Marquez said.
“That's positive in view of the race, even if we're not yet where we'd like to be and still have a margin for improvement with the set-up. The Losail layout may not be the most favourable of the season for our bike, but in the past we've scored a podium and a win here with the RC213V, so we'll fight to get the best result on Sunday.
“This year there are a few variables that aren't yet completely predictable, such as tyre wear at race distance, for example, and the bike's behaviour with the new electronics,” he said.
“Still, Honda never cease to work hard, as is the case for me and the whole team, so I'm positive and look forward to the action starting.”