Marc Marquez heads for this weekend's second round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship two places better off than at the same time last season.
The Repsol Honda star put a mixed pre-season, in which the latest RC213V struggled to adapt to the new unified ECU software, behind him with a close third place (+2.287s from victory) in Qatar.
It was also Marquez's first race on Michelin tyres, the french manufacturer returning to MotoGP as the new exclusive supplier. But this weekend's Argentina round will be a greater step into the unknown since, unlike in Qatar, there has been no winter test at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
Michelin's tyre data is thus restricted to a test with Ducati's Michele Pirro in 2015, while Marquez's main hope is that the Qatar set-up will transfer over to the Argentine circuit. If so, it would mean they have found an effective base set-up from which to work.
“We come to Argentina in a positive mood after achieving a third-place finish in Qatar, a result that wasn't really predictable before the start of the season. We worked very hard and very well with Honda and with the team over the weekend, and on race day I was able to push as hard as is currently possible,” Marquez said.
“Of course we haven't had a winter test here to count on and we'll have to see if the set-up we found in Qatar will also work here. That would be a good step forward for us, generally speaking, and we could even aim for a little bit better result on Sunday.
“Of course it will be a question mark until Friday but all in all, Argentina is a circuit that I like. We've always been fast here, so I feel positive for the weekend.”
Marquez famously clashed with Valentino Rossi while trying to defend his lead in the closing stages of last year's race, leaving the Honda rider on the ground. It was to be the first of three incidents between the pair, being followed by Assen and Sepang.