John McPhee believes the opening of Sunday's Moto3 encounter at the Circuit of Catalunya, during which he was occupied by a few hairy moves, was partly to blame for his twelfth place finish under the draining Catalan sun.

The Scot was confident he had the speed to run with the leading group, which at first contained six riders, before growing to eleven by the final lap, but admitted he lacked the pace to bridge the gap to the front.

Due to struggling to stop the bike in the track's numerous heavy braking areas, and excessive tyre wear, McPhee was unable to stick with Andrea Migno, Nicolo Bulega and Nico Antonelli, as they sped from the second group toward the leaders in the closing laps.

"It was a difficult race," said McPhee, speaking to Crash.net. "The pace that we were able to show in the beginning and the middle of the rece was good but we just had to work too hard for it at the beginning to get in with that front group.

"I ended up fighting with a lot of guys on track, and [we were] messing each other up. There were a few people that, at the start of the race, just mix the group up. I had the speed to go with the group but I didn't have the speed to catch the group.

"It was really important to try and be there in the first few laps. I was just off the back end of it and didn't have the pace to come back on to them. I struggled a lot because I was over-pushing the tyres.

"Then in the last few laps I just dropped off. I kind of had to settle for twelfth position, which isn't where I want to be but we found a good direction with the bike that's looking promising for the next few races."

When pressed on what issues with the bike had held him back, McPhee continued: "A couple of different things. I'm just trying to help to get the bike stopped. We weren't able to stop the bike as good as we wanted to. That's what we struggled with all weekend but we made a good step with that in the race."

Having tested at Le Mans prior to the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, McPhee and the British Talent Team found a setting that worked well around the fast, flowing Tuscan venue.

However, with the much-revised final sector, the Circuit of Catalunya has shed two of the corners that had previously made it a rider's favourite. The resulting tighter turn ten and final chicane - both of which require heavy braking - ultimately cost McPhee through the weekend.

"In Mugello it's a different style of track. You don't really have the first gear hairpins there. I didn't struggle with it as much there and we came here and I did struggle.

"If it was the old layout I don't think we would have even had a problem with it. With the new layout - because it's a bit more start-stop, tight and twisty - it had a bit of a knock-on effect."

McPhee's strongest performances in 2017 have come at tracks that have a series of high-speed, flowing bends (Qatar, Argentina, Mugello). With this in mind, the 22-year old is confident the upcoming rounds at Assen and the Sachsenring will provide further opportunity to reel in championship leader Joan Mir.

"I'm now looking forward to the next two tracks I'm at. Whether the bike is working or not, they should suit my style. Hopefully we can claw some points back in the championship."

As a result of this twelfth place, McPhee now sits seventh in the world championship, 66 points back of Mir.

By Neil Morrison

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