The new Petronas Yamaha Sepang team heads to its first MotoGP event, in Qatar this weekend, with riders Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo buoyed by recent testing results at the same Losail circuit.

Rookie Quartararo was a stunning second quickest on the lower-spec M1 (thought to have less RPM, due to less engine changes) while Morbidelli - rarely strong in testing – set the seventh fastest lap time (+0.452s).

That made the Italian the slowest of the four Yamahas, a reflection on just how well the machine was working over a single lap at Losail. However the Italian, preparing to start his second premier-class season, also feels he has a 'strong pace'.

"I am looking forward to starting the first GP of the year," said Morbidelli, who has an A spec bike, equal at the start of the season to the official machines of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

"We can be there, ready to fight. We won’t set any objectives until we start work at Losail and put everything we have tested, and which has produced such good results, together.

"We established a strong pace on the second day of the test in Qatar and I think everything is very close between all the riders.

"At this first race we have to try and take advantage of the fact that the Yamaha bikes are working really well at this track."

Morbidelli claimed a best result of eighth during his rookie MotoGP season, with Marc VDS Honda.

Quartararo is also reluctant to name exact goals for this weekend, when the team will be supported by F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, but admits his test form means he now wants more than just a top 15 finish on Sunday evening.

"I am feeling confident about my first challenge as a MotoGP rider," said the young Frenchman.

"It is always good to arrive at a circuit where you have already tested. For me, a good result would be to score points in the first round of the season but looking at how I felt in the Qatar test I want more than that.

"I also know that I have to stay calm and focused to have a good race and see what result we can manage."

Quartararo is one of four rookies on the 2019 grid, alongside Joan Mir (Suzuki), Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (Tech3 KTM).

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