Eugene Laverty says a points-scoring finish in the Qatar MotoGP on Sunday is his target as he bids to put a difficult pre-season behind him.
The Irishman's preparations were hampered by injury when he crashed on the Aspar Ducati GP14.2 at Jerez in Spain in November, breaking his left wrist and dislocating his shoulder.
He also injured his hand during a spill at the Sepang test in February after the throttle stuck open on the Ducati, forcing him to miss valuable track time.
However, Laverty – who rode the Open class Honda for the Aspar team in his rookie MotoGP season in 2015 – says the hardship he has experienced over the winter months will be worth it when the first race blasts off under the floodlights at the Losail circuit on Sunday.
“I'm very excited to begin racing once again. Pre-season testing is a really important time of the year but racing is my real passion. I've endured a tough winter but when the lights go out on Sunday it will all be worth it,” he said.
“We made progress during the test in Qatar and I'm happy that we are returning to the same circuit again to continue our forward momentum. The Aspar team is working hard with me to get back to 100 per-cent and soon we'll be able to display our full potential on the Ducati.
“We're aiming for a points scoring finish on Sunday to start our season on a positive note and we'll keep building from there.”
Meanwhile, Laverty's team-mate Yonny Hernandez – who replaces American Nicky Hayden in the team – feels a top ten result is possible this weekend.
“I am ready and excited for the GP of Qatar to get started. I am curious to see how development is progressing with the Michelin tyres. Hopefully we can do a good job,” said the Colombian rider.
“I have been working hard to get us to where I think we should be, which is inside the top ten or 12 riders. That is our objective for this season. On the final day of the test recently in Qatar we found the right way forward and that enabled us to maintain a consistent pace.
“Hopefully we can pick up where we left off and start the season off on the right foot, with a positive race at Losail,” Hernandez added.
“I quite like the track and I had a pretty good race there last season. Night racing is unusual and also not as hot as normal.”