Scott Redding described his mood as "over the moon" on Sunday night after finishing a fine seventh in the MotoGP season opener in Qatar.

The disappointing showings at the Malaysian and Australian tests are now a distant memory, as Redding consolidated his seventh fastest time at the final preseason shakedown with an impressive race weekend, his first aboard Ducati's GP16.

Not only was the 24-year old surprisingly fastest in FP2, he pieced together a quick, consistent race, and eventually ended the 20 laps less than ten seconds off race winner Maverick Vi?ales.

It was relief at the end of what had been a long day. Using the same medium compound rear tyre in afternoon warm-up, Redding was a distant 18th fastest. But his feeling with the same tyre returned when track temperatures dropped, allowing him to equal his best MotoGP result at Losail track.

"For me it was a good race," he said. "It was tough. This morning we didn't have no pace with the medium tyre. During the test days we were good with the medium but for some reason we really struggled.

"I was just hoping everyone would stay with that medium because I had no option to go with the soft. To be nine seconds behind the leader - that's the main improvement for me. And the consistency through the race was really good.

"The bike was working well, not perfect. We have a few small things to try and improve for the [next] race, you know? The main thing is it was the first race of the season. A top ten. My lap time from start to finish was the same lap time. I'm over the moon with that."

The result was all the sweeter, Redding said, considering some of his early preseason form. "The first few tests we did we were 13th, 16th, 17th," he said.

"We never thought this would have happened. So the work that the team have done to put the bike how it is, the work we did together to arrive there was really good.

"If you had said top ten, I would have been happy. If we were looking at now from [where we were at] the beginning of the first test we'd have been over the moon. I'm really happy with the work we've done. Thanks to the team for looking after me and, yeah, we made it happen today."

The gap to the leaders at the flag could have been even less had Redding not been forced to shut off when rookie Johann Zarco pulled across on the run to turn one, a move the Englishman labeled 'dangerous'.

Still, that wasn't enough to take the shine off his opening performance of the season. "I'm a little bit annoyed with Zarco off the start," he said. "It was very dangerous, especially in MotoGP. That cost me also a lot of positions. I had a really good start and then I had to shut the gas.

"Apart from that I'm satisfied. Like I've said, if I can be top ten I'll be really happy. I was just pushing the whole race. That was the limit. My lap times show that was my limit. When Aleix passed me I couldn't do anything about it. I was hoping they would get tired but in this game no one gets tired."

Cal Crutchlow - Career Profile by Crash_net



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