For the past two seasons, Argentina's Termas de Rio Hondo circuit has been the scene of the Aspar (now Angel Nieto) team's best MotoGP results of the year.

Eugene Laverty finished fourth in 2016, a feat then matched by Alvaro Bautista last season - when team-mate Karel Abraham sensationally qualified on the front row.

But Bautista predicts a tougher time this weekend, as he continues to search for a comfortable set-up with his new GP17 Ducati.

The Spaniard was left just 21st on the grid in Qatar, but fought his way into the points with a '12th+1' finish in the race.

"Last year's race in Argentina wasn't bad for us, fourth place was the best result of the season and it is a circuit that on paper looks quite easy and fun - I like it," Bautista said of this weekend's event.

"This year we arrive in a different way. We were better prepared in 2017, whereas this season we are still facing some issues.

"In Qatar, after all the work we did in practice, we saw an improvement in the race, which was positive if you look at where we started, the lap times we put together and the gap at the finish to the winner.

"So I can take plenty of motivation to Argentina, which is a track that suits my style well. It will be difficult to repeat the result from last year but if we are able to build on the feeling from the race in Qatar we can certainly be closer.

"That is our objective now: to close the gap to the top until I am able to enjoy myself properly and give my maximum on the bike. Let's see if we can get another good result in Argentina."

Abraham also scored a point in the opening round, bringing his GP16 home in 15th place.

"I like the Termas de Río Hondo circuit and also last year it was good for us, especially on the Saturday when we qualified second on the grid.

"I am looking forward to going back there and I want to give my maximum in qualifying to achieve another strong starting position that we can build on with a strong race.

"I think that if I can make a good start and put some fast laps together at the beginning of the race we can fight for an interesting result. We will give it our best shot. I'm ready.”