Hector Barbera believes the brand new challenge offered by this weekend's inaugural MotoGP in Austin, Texas will allow him to take on CRT leaders Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet.

The Aspar riders finished directly ahead of Barbera in Qatar - the Spaniard crossing the line in 13th on his Blusens Avintia race debut.

Reigning CRT champion Espargaro was 20-seconds clear after the 22 Losail laps, a gap Barbera expects to shrink considerably as the riders start from scratch in Austin.

"We will race on a circuit that is new for all the riders of the category and this can be of help for us," he said. "Our rivals have data and last year's experience on all the [other] tracks, but we do not, so it should be taken into account.

"In Austin we will all start from zero and I am convinced that the gap will be shortened. At every circuit we have to make readjustments to the electronics, the suspensions etc., and this time the other riders will also have to do it.

"So here it will be different. I am very encouraged and feel sure of doing a good GP and proving that we should be kept in mind for the victory. We do not have to wait for more races. We can achieve it now."

Team-mate and fellow former manufacturer rider Hiroshi Aoyama took the final point in Qatar. The Japanese is also eager to close in on the Aprilia riders.

"The opening race of 2013 in Qatar was not bad but we need to improve in Austin," he said. "We have new things to test and I am sure that if they work well, we will be competitive. Our goal is to be very close to the Aprilia men because if we are there, it will mean that we have improved, being among the leaders."

The only CRT riders with prior COTA knowledge will be local wild-cards Mike Barnes (Attack Kawasaki) and Blake Young (GPTech Suzuki).



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